Flooding solutions important

It’s impossible to know for sure whether this part of Pennsylvania has seen the worst of this summer’s flooding and whether current clean-up efforts will be able to proceed without weather-related setbacks.

It must be acknowledged that forecasts covering the coming weeks have indicated the possibility of rain on many days, with the possibility of tropical moisture posing the risk of more flash flooding.

This year’s spring and summer have been wet — too wet in the eyes of most area residents — and predictions for the fall by the National Weather Service and AccuWeather aren’t laying out the prospect for dry or drought-like conditions.

But what has been experienced up to now has been instructive to areas that, for decades, haven’t witnessed the kind of flooding problems that they’ve dealt with during the past days and weeks.

For them, recent days have been a wake-up call.

One such place still prominent in news reports is the Cambria County community of Patton, which, while still assessing its situation and continuing clean-up work, is hopeful of acquiring state and federal money to deal with the aftermath of its high-water experience.

In Patton and some other places, what occurred in recent days provided revelations to homeowners, businesses and the municipalities that they never had cause to consider before now.

For starters, some homeowners eligible for federal flood insurance had ignored the availability, and might have big recovery bills facing them as a result — for such items as new furnaces, water heaters and floor coverings.

Some people who might have been remiss about the condition of their sump pumps, or who would have been wise to have a pump on hand in case of water infiltration into their basements, especially those living near streams, are faced with acknowledging the results of their oversights or unwillingness to invest in protective equipment that might have limited the damage that they incurred.

The heavy rains provided updated “roadmaps” of water flow resulting from new development, as well as from infrastructure such as storm sewer systems that have deteriorated over the years.

Patton is faced with debating the future of the Chest Creek dam, while concern in Hollidaysburg has been heightened about water entering the borough from places such as Penn Farm Estates.

Logan Township and Altoona face more study on how to address areas that have been — and continue to be — prone to difficulties stemming from heavy, persistent rains.

Trouble is, solutions carry a sometimes hefty cost.

Probably the most important message that the flooding delivered was that much brainstorming and planning are necessary, going forward. It’s important that, even if drier weather camps out in this part of the state for a prolonged period in the weeks ahead, the facts about what has been experienced this summer not be forgotten.

For emergency responders in Patton and elsewhere, the task ahead includes evaluation of their performance during the emergency conditions, although there is much good to be said about their responses.

Residents of affected areas should continue to discuss with their elected officials possible remedial measures as money and time permit.

Recovery is well on its way, but important decisions and work remain.

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