The Delaware River, one of America’s most famous rivers, stretches along the Atlantic coast of the country. One of the most recent news about the Delaware River is the effect Hurricane Irene had on it, which I will be discussing here.
Though not widely reported on the mainstream news (not specifically, anyway), Hurricane Irene had a devastating effect on the river, and the people who live in its region. The damage was so substantial that millions were left without power. Much like what we saw in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, Congress is being tasked with how better to prepare this region for another such natural disaster.
Again, as with Katrina, dams were a huge factor in the devastation of the area. Several dams along the Delaware were taken out during the storm, and several were left to be managed by civilians rather than government officials. There is some debate on who should be responsible for maintaining said dams, whether it be civilians, Home Owners Associations, or the government itself. While many people do believe the government must be involved to a certain degree, it seems to be the general consensus that everyone should do what they can in order to prevent flooding and damage to homes and businesses.
Many owners of homes and businesses along the Delaware found themselves unprepared when the storm hit, and were forced to scramble to make last minute preparations. This is another problem that is being addressed; the thought is that perhaps these owners should be made very aware of the possibilities of flooding and damage when they buy their property. The belief is that not only would this help them be better prepared, but would take some weight off the back of the government.
As far as specific damages to the Delaware area in wake of Irene, power outages are the most rampant. These outages are especially devastating when sump pumps are taken into account, something that people depend on in the event of a flood. Generator sales are growing higher in these areas for that specific reason; people simply cannot afford to be out of power when trying to combat nature’s forces. Not only is the economy hurt by all of this loss of power and damage to property, but when you look at businesses being shut down for extended periods of time, the financial loss to a community can be devastating.
All of that is in the past, things have been cleaned up, and what the area needs now is a flow of income to help the area and safeguard against future damage. There are many recreational activities available to people around the Delaware, including canoeing, biking, hiking, water tubing, boating, and camping. Even if you’re looking for a more casual outing, the area features some beautiful sights and wildlife, and a few bed and breakfasts to enjoy. The Delaware River Railroad is also a popular tourist attraction, which offers tours throughout areas of New Jersey. The train also runs a tour into the Susquehanna Mine, and gives riders a chance to search for gems.
It has been reported recently that the Delaware River is the fifth most polluted river in the country, according to Environment New Jersey, behind the Ohio, Mississippi, New and Savannah rivers. This group has said that 6.7 million pounds of toxic chemicals are in the river, and they’re pointing the finger at DuPont Chambers Works in Salem County. The plant has been operating since 1892, and is currently involved in primarily chemical production. Apparently under current law, the plant is legally allowed to put out 5.3 million pounds of waste, a fact that has spurred much controversy in the area. Many have suggested that this is in direct opposition to the Clean Water Act, put into place in 1972. Government environmental officials, however, have stated that they believe these statistics put out by Environmental New Jersey are ‘biased and bogus’.
Whether or not the numbers are completely accurate, it begs the question as to why New Jersey’s state government would be so quick to criticize Environmental New Jersey, when their objective in reporting these statistics appears to be in the best interest of the region. No one can argue that healthier and cleaner waters will not benefit all inhabitants of the area, both human and animal, so one would think this matter should be addressed and discussed rather than being brushed aside. It has been suggested that the state government’s financial ties to DuPont could be to blame, but that is not confirmed, and a representative from DuPont could not be reached to discuss that matter at this time.
The last bit of recent news comes from the New Jersey comptroller, in reference to millions of dollars allegedly wasted by the Delaware River Port Authority. The NJ Comptroller, Matthew Boxer, criticized the DRPA for frivolously spending money including, but not limited to, giving executives’ family and friends free EZ-Pass for the turnpike. A direct quote from Boxer says, “In nearly every area we looked at, we found people who treated the DRPA like a personal ATM, from DRPA commissioners to private vendors to community organizations. People with connections at the DRPA were quick to put their hand out when dealing with the agency, and they generally were not disappointed when they did.”
As expressed by this selection of topics, times are not easy for the community around the Delaware River. While they have many activities and tourist attractions available to the public, that’s certainly no saving grace in this down economy where people are much less likely to go out and spend money. Between dealing with natural disaster devastation, pollution, and financial corruption in government, the area certainly has some obstacles to overcome in the coming years. Still, the attitude of the people living in this area and the entrepreneurs doing business is optimistic. They hope to see these issues resolved, and for the Delaware to continue to be a place of fun and beauty for many years to come.