Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Lehigh Valley Considers Regional Approach to Potential Disasters

The Lehigh Valley is a fragmented mess of 62 municipalities, 17 school districts and two counties. That pretty much explains why developers have their way with us, and don't even have to buy us dinner first. But another problem, and a very serious one, is that we have no unified response to any of a number of cataclysmic events that could impact this region, whether it's flooding, hurricanes, earthquakes, pandemics, or LEPOCO.

This is slowly changing. Lehigh and Northampton County officials have combined and are preparing a joint county hazard mitigation plan. PEMA told Northampton County Council last week this regional approach is a first of its kind in Pennsylvania, and that officials are actually six or seven months ahead of schedule.

Hooray for our team!

Although I don't know plan details, the focus appears to be flooding. Sounds like a plan, especially since this area has been inundated over the last two years by three fifty-year floods.

This regional approach, something advocated by County Execs Stoffa (Northampton) and Cunningham (Lehigh) is the only way to go, especially when the National Hurricane Center is warning us that the "worst is yet to come," and that includes a major hurricane racing up the east coast.

6 comments:

Doctor Rick said...

When Lehigh has a volcano erupt, a twister take out Dorney, a flood evacuate the city and an earthquake swallows the city whole...

What happens in LV?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Dr. Rick, We've had 3 megafloods in 2 years, the kind of flooding that should only happen every 50 years. By planning for that, our local governments are actually doing a good thing. I give them high marks for that, and for cooperating with each other to have a regional approach, the first in the state. But I understand your point. No matter how much planning is done, we probably still won't be ready. Thanks for your comments.

Bernard P. Fife said...

To think the Lehigh Valley is disaster free is just foolish thinking. Since 1985, the valley has had 3 tropical depressions, 3 tropical storms, 3 hurricanes and 1 blizzard pass through the area. (http://www.fema.gov/news/disasters_state.fema?id=42)

Besides natural disasters, there are other types of disasters we face, such as toxic chemical spills and electrical blackouts.

Planning is extremely necessary. I was living in Fort Myers, Florida during Hurricane Charley in 2004. I was a volunteer ham radio operator for Lee County. I witnessed what good organization and planning can do in time of disaster. I applaud the local Lehigh Valley governments for their regional disaster planning.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Barney, I slam them when they're wrong. It's only fair to compliment them when they do something right. Thanks for your comment.

Gort said...

Bernie, I slam our local yokels up here in Luzerne County for borrowing too much money, hiring the relatives of the well connectected and many other things. But when the shit is going to hit the fan like our latest flood scare everybody is on the same page. I think the rest of the state/country can learn a lesson from us on how to deal with an emergency. Unfortunately we have had a lot of practice.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Gort, We probably could use a little help from the folks upstream.