Editorial: The new normal

Seasonal flooding appears to be the new normal in this region. Severe flooding is wreaking havoc on residents and businesses across the region, which is heartbreaking considering many of those affected had just recovered from severe flooding two years ago.

The 2017 flood has, up until now, been called the “once-in-100-year-flood”. This year’s ongoing flood is now being called the “once-in-100-year-flood”. That’s two once-in-a-100-year events in the past three years. Right now along the St. Lawrence River and Lake St. Lawrence, there is higher water upstream of Iroquois and in the lake. We will feel the effects of this flooding for many years to come.

The faster snow melt and more rain this spring means more water in the Great Lakes system. We who live near the water are not immune to the effects of these weather events. Last year, when the water levels on the lake were at 20 year lows, the impact on recreational boaters, the tourism industry, anglers, and residents of South Dundas and South Stormont was very apparent. Vast areas of the region flooded 60 years ago were suddenly exposed as the waters receded.

Officials with the International Joint Commission, and Environment and Climate Change Canada, at the time said the water from the 2017 flooding in the Great Lakes would take four-to-five years then to work through the river, and past our front doors. We were told to expect low water levels like last year. Now another extreme event has come along.The upshot is that this time-frame will extend even further.

If events like the great floods of 2017 and 2019, and the great drain of 2018, are the new normal, how are we in the region going to cope?

Those living and working along the waterfront will see the most impact. The changes are affecting property use, and property values, and tourism. The effects will be profound and will trickle down to everyone. This means diversifying our rural economies even more to not rely as much on water-based tourism and recreation. It may mean higher property taxes for all residents to compensate for municipal revenues lost. It could mean job losses.

For six decades, we have heard the local lore of how towns like Iroquois and Morrisburg, Aultsville and Milles Roche, did not need to be relocated. People often proclaim there were other ways to build the Seaway project that did not require for those communities to be moved. Recent events might suggest otherwise.

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