Commission tackles flood issues

By Geoff Samuels
At Monday morning’s Middletown Flood Commission meeting, the acronyms were flowing as fast as a raging river.

To anyone not familiar with many of the county and state agencies, understanding all the details about the area’s flood mitigation projects is a daunting task. But when all was said and done, two major themes emerged: Most of the pieces of the short-term flood mitigation program are well underway, while the longer term plans are still in their beginning stages.

Middletown Supervisor Marge Miller opened the meeting saying, “We need to dispel the dredging myth; people need to understand the science behind flood mitigation.”

As elucidated by Delaware County Soil and Water’s Greydon Dutcher, dredging usually results in deposits of sediment building up in other places, like the mouth of the reservoir, so that’s not necessarily the way to go.

Miller went on to say “We want to inundate the public with as much information as possible” adding, “We should to be able to hand people a construction schedule so they can come out and see what’s actually going on around here.”

Town of Middletown Code Enforcement Officer Pat Davis elaborated that there are many sites in Delaware County where flood-mitigating activities are taking place right now, so the public would have plenty of examples to observe.

Davis then continued with a discussion of how the Department of Environmental Conversation (DEC) interacts with communities through the Community Rating System (CRS) to essentially give them a score on how well they are complying with various flood plain regulations. This in turn affords them the opportunity for lower premiums on their flood insurance through the work of the Insurance Services Organization (ISO). Davis also informed participants at the meeting that a veritable wealth of information on flood mitigation is being made available at the area’s public libraries. According to Davis, a prospective Middletown property owner should soon be able to walk into either the Skene or Fairview library and find all the updated flood plain maps and FEMA documentation necessary before making a decision to buy or build in the area.

With flood-plain maps now the center of discussion, Davis explained that the maps are continually being updated by the map steering committee with information gathered from communities about various trouble spots. This prompted Miller to ask if the updated maps would be ready for the next Flood Commission meeting saying, “I’d like to have the visual demonstration so that every one in the room can take a look…so there’s a general sense of knowledge …as events change we can have a basic compilation of where our focus is.”

As the meeting came to a close, many questions about mapping procedures and various agencies had been covered.

Finally, the issue of long-term mitigation came up, with the consensus being that some properties in the village might eventually me moved to other locations and as Graydon Dutcher put it, “probably not in my life cycle.” This was obviously a subject to be tackled somewhere down the road.

The next Flood Commission meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 25 at 6 p.m. at the Middletown Town Hall.