Souvenirs of Yesteryear: The plain fill-osophy of floods

The flood of June 2006 was described by many lifelong residents as the worst they could remember. Personal memories can extend for only a lifetime, at best, but history is the long-term memory of a society. Chenango County has been hit by numerous floods; those in September 1905 and July 1935 were probably the most devastating.

Are floods really getting worse? Or does it just seem that they are? The consensus seems to indicate that floods are probably getting worse. One reason is that any buildings next to the river have already been removed and those that have been above flood waters are now being hit. Evidently, the floods are reaching new heights. New floodplain maps are being prepared.

An important reason why the waters are rising is because the size of the floodplain has been noticeably reduced. Historical photos bear this out. Over the past century, the floodplain has been steadily filled in. In fact, it is still being filled in.

The photo shows an operation going on now on State Route 12 in the Town of North Norwich. The sign solicits “HARD FILL ONLY!” The Chenango River is less than a tenth of a mile away, back by those trees. Similar fillings are going on up and down the valley. Why do people downstream put up with this?

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