Blackwater is not getting help it needs

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 20, 2007

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist — or a geologist, for that matter — to know that the Blackwater River needs help moving thousands of gallons of water after heavy rains soak the grounds upstream, leaving to devastating floods downstream.

Less than a year ago, the Blackwater raged again, overflowing its banks and creating ponds in downtown Franklin, and other low-lying locations, where streets once were.

The results of the flooding were disastrous to local businesses and commerce activities in general. Many buildings were evacuated and some people were forced from their homed.

Miraculously, the human toll was minimal.

The 2006 flood, which followed the torrential rains of a nor’easter, was preceded by a flood in 1999, the result of rains from Hurricane Floyd.

Yet, no precautions have been taken to prevent another such flood.

No study has been conducted as to why the river can’t handle the deluges. That’s a disaster in itself. But it’s an oversight that can be corrected.

Right now, the U.S. Senate stands in the way of approving an assessment by the United States Army Corps of Engineers to study conditions within the Chowan Basin that could have contributed to historic flooding in Franklin and surrounding areas in 1999 and 2006.

The City of Franklin approved a plan to buy and install gauges to measure rising levels and increasing speed of the Blackwater. That’s a start. A federally funded study and action by the Corps of Engineers could do so much more.