Board members consider removing islands to prevent flooding
The town of Vestal is looking for ways to reduce the area’s chance of flooding. One of the ideas is to do away with some islands on the Susquehanna River. Our Elyse Mickalonis explains the concept, and why board members believe it could work.
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VESTAL, N.Y. -- Last year’s flooding has board members in Vestal worried about future storms and the impact some islands may have on the area.
"We need to get rid of these islands, they're nothing but a problem to the town of Vestal and Broome Country residents. These islands have grown to tremendous proportions in the last 50 or 60 years,” said Fran Majewski, Town of Vestal Deputy Supervisor.
The town wants to study how the removal of islands from the Susquehanna River could prevent future flooding. Board members say given the area’s historic flooding in 2006 and 2011, removing islands may be an option to reduce the chance of floodwaters breaching levies.
"Talking to local residents, based off the river flow even today, if we get a small amount of rain, it's not flowing as fast as it did,” said Steve Milkovich, Town of Vestal Councilmember.
"Even through the islands are slowing the water down, it raises the water and that's why it's breaching our levies. If taking out the islands will increase the volume of water flowing through, that will, in essence, keep the levels down so we won't have the flooding we've had in the past few years,” said Majewski.
The board recently passed a resolution to request the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study the removal of certain islands from the Susquehanna River.
"They're the experts, they would know which ones to take out and which ones to leave,” said Majewski.
The board says they’re concerned for the safety of Broome County residents, but they also need to look at how this move would affect wildlife along the river and on the islands.
"We'll also look at the environment. We don't want the environmental impact of our local area, but we have to look at the residents and the devastation we've had in the past two floods,” said Milkovich.
Majewski added, "I realize there are animals and there are trees on these islands, but we're talking about the safety of the residents and I think that comes first and foremost."
The board says they're looking to get a position on the study from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and start cleaning up the river by the end of September. They’re also sending letters to U.S., state and local politicians about the issue and encouraging residents to give their input.