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July 2, 2012

2011 flooding: Through hell and high water

PLATTSBURGH — Seawalls and other shoreline structures needed replacement and repair after the spring 2011 inundation. 

Then, and after Tropical Storm Irene, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers allowed individuals and communities to get back on their feet more quickly by streamlining the permitting process for flood-related projects, according to Col. John Boule.

The Plattsburgh native, commander of the Army Corps’ New York District, is responsible for environmental projects across the region.

“The region operated under general emergency permits,” he said of the flood and storm aftermath along Lake Champlain, rivers and streams. “It worked well. It eliminated delays and reduced the frustration when working with bureaucracy.

“Our experts were able to assess the situation and step up to help the community with technical advice.”

INTERNATIONAL EFFORT

A major necessity in the interest of preventing future events of that magnitude is to improve drainage issues, including the overall drainage of the region’s central water supply: Lake Champlain itself.

“The International Joint Commission (between the United States and Canada) is working diligently to prevent future flooding,” he said.“They are currently isolating specific issues and plan on having their first report out in December, including a set of proposals” to implement correctable problems.

“We need to balance a number of goals in consideration of all water-resource needs, with a focus on mitigation and what the flood risks are inside the basin,” he continued.

‘NEEDS DREDGING’

Lake Champlain flows north into the Richelieu River; actually, the river begins at about the breakwater off Lake Street in Rouses Point. 

The Richelieu experienced unprecedented flooding, too, in spring 2011. Clinton County Clerk John Zurlo serves on the Citizens Advisory Council of New York and has been in discussions on that topic.

“The Richelieu really needs to be dredged,” he said. “It’s not deep enough; it’s not as wide; it doesn’t flow out as fast, is what people theorize.”

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