Tuesday, September 28, 2021

After the flood and before the next storm


On the heels of the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Irene, comes commemoration of another calamity: It’s been almost two years since the Halloween Storm of 2019 dumped a frightening amount of rain in the Southeastern Adirondacks, an event that probably received less attention than was due because it centered on a less populated part of the park.
The storm washed out the road to the much-ballyhooed Boreas Ponds, scarcely six weeks after it had opened. One small victim of the storm was a bridge leading to Hammond Pond, a sparkling blue sheet in the Eastern Adirondacks. It took two years, but the state has finally replaced it with a beefy piece of infrastructure that is part bridge, part work of art (see photo above).

It may seem like overkill for such a small stream, but as the climate changes, that’s what it’s going to take to withstand the beating that trails, roads and bridges are likely to absorb from rising rivers and streams. Notably, the Restore Mother Nature Bond Act on the ballot next year would spend no less than $1 billion to brace against the impact of flooding. Many have fretted over the costs of lowering carbon emissions. But failing to lower carbon emissions is likely to cost us far more.

— Tim Rowland, Explorer contributor

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Tim Rowland is a humor columnist for Herald-Mail Media in Hagerstown, Md., and a New York Times bestselling author. His books include High Peaks; A History of Hiking the Adirondacks from Noah to Neoprene and Strange and Unusual Stories of New York City. He has climbed the 46 high peaks, is an avid bicyclist, and trout tremble with fear when they see his approaching shadow. He and his wife Beth are residents of Jay, N.Y.

9 Responses

  1. Sending prayers and positive thoughts. Americans and America will always recover. Though will take time to recover from so much destruction as of 2021

  2. James Marco says:

    Well Said!

  3. Zephyr says:

    Fighting climate change by building ever stronger, more elaborate, and expensive structures is a losing proposition. Instead we should be trying to figure out how to adapt more naturally to the changes coming. For example, do we really need a footbridge across that stream at that location? We need to start retreating further from rivers and streams, including not rebuilding in the same locations after floods.

    • Todd Miller says:

      I disagree. Building more resilient structures designed to handle larger storm flows is exactly what we need to do to plan and design infrastructures for the future. Yes, we need to avoid building in flood zones, but humans need to cross streams at some points, therefore these beefed-up structures are needed at those points. Also, the bridge location may well have been sited at the best place to cross the stream. Even old-timers knew where the best places were to cross streams.

  4. Paul says:

    Humans are the most adaptable creature on the planet. We have always moved farther and farther into places where it was inhospitable and we made it work – that’s what we do. The fact that we live in places like the Adirondacks is a great example.

    It’s in our DNA.

  5. Charlie Stehlin says:

    “Fighting climate change by building ever stronger, more elaborate, and expensive structures is a losing proposition.”

    “Building more resilient structures designed to handle larger storm flows is exactly what we need to do to plan and design infrastructures for the future.”

    > I was reminded of what I have been seeing, and continue to see, in my travels the past few years in New York & the Capital region. Road work! Specifically where creeks, or simply narrow carvings over the landscape, go under the road through cement drain pipes, or corrugated steel pipes…..where oftentimes dry creek beds go under. These are not cheap projects and it is not unusual for a road to be closed where these projects are taking shape for a month or more. Above Warrensburg they built a new bridge within the past few years…to cite one example. I was down in Olive, NY last week where the same is taking shape, a new bridge up from the Peekamoose Valley road, is being constructed over a creek there. In Cohoes recently they put a new fatter pipe under Columbia Street where hardly is there ever even a trickle of water flowing under….. I have been curious about these projects and got to thinking “climate change.” They’re preparing for more water as the Earth cooks. What else can it be? Contrary to the anti science crowd it seems to me the State people are on to something and thinking ahead while they’re at it. They’re spending our tax dollars wise in these parts I gather!

  6. Chris Savarie says:

    Why after 2 years is the Gulf Brook Rd now closed to ALL forms of traffic, including pedestrians? I am aware of the damage the road sustained, I am also aware of what is involved in making repairs to the culverts and road itself. People need to start asking questions to those responsible and if necessary their bosses. There is no reason for the lack of progress with the Boreas Ponds access. Those responsible need to be held accountable.

    • Boreas says:

      That would be the town and the state – the parties that wanted to improve the road to allow increased traffic to the ponds and happily assumed responsibility for maintenance. Perhaps COVID played a role in slowing down work, but two years? An open road necessitates more patrolling, which Seggos has not facilitated with additional Rangers for the purpose. As far as I am concerned, keep the road closed until all parties are held to their responsibilities and perform their commitments.

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