Flash floods occur somewhere in the region almost every year.
After every flood, the tendency has been for residents to rebuild their lives and pray that “this is the last destructive one.” Structural projects have been built in hopes of controlling future floodwaters. As time passes, people tend to forget about flooding and become complacent. Additional development occurs in flood-prone areas. Deforestation and upland development increase the amount of runoff. Stream channels are allowed to become clogged with debris. In short, residents of the Southern Tier Central region continue to grossly underestimate the destructive powers of their rivers, streams, and lakes.
It is not possible to predict the behavior of the next flood and it is unwise to rely on any single source of information about where flooding may occur. However, water does run downhill, so it is possible to anticipate the highest risk areas.
Flood warning and effective flood response are the greatest defense against loss of life during a flood. Plan for floods and monitor warnings. There may only be a moment’s notice.
Floodplains flood! Safe and resilient communities can only be achieved if development is located in low risk areas or designed to withstand flooding.
Build in flood-safe locations. The best strategy for avoiding flood damage is to locate development outside of flood-prone areas. Local governments can use public education and land use authorities to promote safe development patterns.
Floodplain development permits are required for all floodplain development – not just buildings. Local laws enacted by each municipality and the NYS Uniform Codes establish standards for development within the high risk floodplain delineated on Flood Insurance Rate Maps (1% annual probability, 100-year floodplain mapped by FEMA).
A flood resilient community is one that has the capacity to prepare for, respond to, and recover from flooding with minimal outside assistance.
Flood insurance doesn’t prevent flood damage, but insurance can be a valuable tool for protecting the financial investment in buildings and building contents. Flood losses are not covered by most insurance policies.
The most cost-effective way to moderate flooding is to protect and restore natural systems.
Damage to the protective vegetation on a levee places the entire community at risk of catastrophic results. Do not drive on levees or damage the sod.
Knowledgeable citizens make informed decisions that balance flood risks with other concerns and are more likely to take voluntary actions to reduce their risks.