The Delaware River Blog

How Hurricane Irene Effected the Delaware River Regions

2011 was the year of natural disasters; earthquakes shook Japan, tornadoes laid waste in Oklahoma and Alabama, and hurricane Irene hit the Delaware River regions leaving millions of people without power.  In the United States, after flooding and power outages in the Delaware River regions as a result of hurricane Irene, congress is again set to the task of deciding how to better prepare for natural disasters.  Hurricane Irene raises questions about how to pay for dam maintenance and repairs, building on flood plains, how to keep people informed and prepared when they live on a flood plain, regulating insurance companies that don’t offer flood insurance and preparing people for mass power outages when natural disasters strike.  Every natural disaster brings change in how people prepare and cope with natural disasters, but where does the U.S find the funds during these economic hard times?

What happened during the hurricane?

After the Delaware River regions were hit by hurricane Irene, many homes and businesses were threatened or flooded by flooding from the Delaware River and its tributaries. Many dams failed while some private homeowners were left with the task of being dam keepers in areas that the government doesn’t maintain the dams.  It raises the question of whether home owners associations are capable of maintaining and repairing dams before a natural disaster.  New laws could enforce home owner associations to maintain and repair dams before a natural disaster when neglect is evident for these dams. Yet, the U.S has to find the funds to maintain and repair the dams under government care.  Requiring private owners and home owners associations to make reforms is a start in making better preparations for another hurricane like hurricane Irene, but better requirements and safe guards on government controlled dams still has to be achieved.  Keeping people informed about new laws and government reforms on dam maintenance and repairs in these regions is crucial in preparing citizens for another hurricane.  It is also as equally important that real estate buyers in these areas are informed of dam laws and that they are buying a home or business on a flood plain.

People interested in buying properties in the Delaware River regions should be made aware by their real estate agent that they are buying property on a flood plain.  During hurricane Irene, homeowners found themselves protecting their properties from flooding, weathering power outages and repairing wind damaged properties.  Informing people of the possibility of a hurricane, flooding and wind damage in these regions and enabling them to prepare before a natural disaster strikes helps soften the blow financially for the government.  Giving the people the power of preparing for a natural disaster provides a better insurance that real insurance companies are not willing to provide without a hefty fee.

Most insurance companies don’t offer flood insurance with a standard policy.  Many home and business owners found themselves paying for damages after hurricane Irene out of their own pockets.  Some home and business owners need help from the government to help cover these costs which put a financial strain on an already compromised system.  Congress has the daunting task of finding emergency relief funds for these areas while insurance companies don’t have to pay out when flood insurance should be standard in flood plain areas.  Congress can better prepare for another natural disaster by regulating the insurance companies and requiring them to provide flood insurance in its standard policy for these areas.  Home and business owners, along with the government, have enough to worry about when natural disasters strike.

English: Cumulative wind from Hurricane Irene (2011) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Effects of the hurricane: Power outages, flooding …

Whenever a natural disaster strikes, power outages are the norm.  Hurricane Irene left millions without power and some went an extended period of time without any power.  During flooding, when sump pumps are important for protecting a home or business, the power outages can be devastating.  The American Red Cross had to place thousands of people after hurricane Irene and the President had to declare the area in a state of emergency.  Power outages left businesses closed and not creating much needed revenue for these flooded out areas.  Energy companies have to work around the clock when a natural disaster hits to resolve issues in disaster areas and hurricane Irene reminded this country that when Mother Nature strikes, nobody is immune to her effect.  Power outages can create more long term negative effects to devastated areas that rely on power to repair and recover from flooding and wind damage.  It’s important that energy companies have enough emergency relief funds beforehand to help resolve their issues quickly when natural disasters happen.  People in these areas might also find that owning a backup generator is a good investment.  It is also important that other issues like dam maintenance and repair, early preparation, and flood and wind damage insurance are last on the list of issues to be resolved when an area is recovering from a hurricane like Irene and the power outages that came with her.

Fields near Montgomery, NY, USA, flooded by Muddy Kill after Hurricane Irene. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hurricane Irene is another reason that better preparations should be made when a natural disaster strikes.  Irene effected the Delaware region with flooding, wind damage, and power outages that wasn’t as costly as hurricane Katrina, but a reminder that mother nature is in charge.  One of the more damaging effects of hurricane Irene was the power outages that kept some areas without power for an extended period of time.  Hurricane Irene is a reminder that alternative energy sources can greatly buffer a disaster area when these areas are trying to recover.  Also, dams must be maintained and repaired every year in anticipation for the worst.  People need to be informed when they are buying real estate and insurance companies need to offer affordable flood insurance in flood plain regions.  When damage is inevitable, these safe guards can make a world of difference.  It’s the best the government and people can do in preparing for such disasters like the hurricane Irene and to invite congress and the people to make positive changes in how a natural disaster is handled.

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