Flood Editorial - 09/25/09

Mother Nature reminded us once again this week that we humans can talk about the weather all we want, but in the end all we can do is stand back and watch as nature displays its power.

That power was never more evident than Tuesday when the accumulation of several days of heavy rainfall came roiling down the bed of the Yellow River, overrunning the river's banks, flooding homes in Rockdale and Newton counties and swamping bridges and roadways. The river was such a spectacle that it drew sightseers to its banks in both counties Tuesday.

People who have lived in Newton County for decades said they could not recall the Yellow River ever before reaching the levels it did on Tuesday or causing the destruction it left in its wake. Residents in Rockdale said the flood waters came almost without warning following a heavy downpour of rain.

Those statements raise a concern that now must be taken seriously if we are to avoid similar disasters in the future. Because the headwaters of the Yellow River lie in highly developed Gwinnett County, it is possible that we will see similar occurrences with more frequency in the future. More development means more impervious surfaces, which means more stormwater runoff - and more water flowing downstream than the Yellow River can handle.

Our elected officials are now faced with the tasks of determining how much damage the flood caused to our infrastructure and making any necessary repairs. At the same time, they should study what we might be able to do in the future to mitigate flooding and its aftermath. We can't control Mother Nature, but it's in our best interest to learn to work with her.