Prevent Floods Caused By Backed-Up Streams

Federal officials focus on keeping homes and businesses out of floodplains to prevent damage when creeks and rivers rise. But here in West Virginia and Ohio, there is a much more dangerous factor in flooding.

Many residents and business owners in Follansbee are engaged in the hard, frustrating, expensive work of cleaning up after a flash flood hit several streets there last weekend.

Most, if not all, of the damage was caused when debris in a creek blocked it partially during a heavy rain, in effect creating a dam that diverted the water into downtown Follansbee.

Pleading for local residents to stop dumping everything from tree branches to old washing machines along stream banks is not a solution, as we have learned after years of futile efforts to curb the problem.

It is a concern throughout West Virginia and the Appalachian area of Ohio.

Perhaps officials in both states — aided, let us hope, by federal funding — should attempt to do something about stream bank debris that can cause flooding. Such programs have been used in the past, and they have helped. A hit-or-miss approach won’t work, however, because Mother Nature has an uncanny way of finding and exploiting the gaps in our defenses against disasters such as floods.