system for floods

The recent property damage that was experienced when the Kennebec River flooded the parking lot and the adjacent buildings along Front Street in Hallowell seems to have been blamed on the lack of timely notification about the impending flood waters.

Rather than pointing fingers, wouldn’t it be better to ask if the existing system of notification is itself at fault? Despite the greater accuracy of weather forecasting in recent years, the method of notification remains the same as it might have been in the 1930s — one agency calling another agency and so on until that eventually leads to someone knocking on doors when there is an emergency order to evacuate. In this day of advanced technology, can’t we do better than that?

I suggest installing a network of smallish outdoor electronic message signs at each entrance to every parking lot that is continually affected by flooding conditions. These signs would then post ongoing levels of alert messages, such as “Flood Watch,” “Flood Warning,” “High Alert,” “Evacuation Ordered,” etc.

In addition, each property that is regularly affected by the floods could be required to have a small box installed on or inside the building that would display the same messages and then sound an alarm when the situation reaches a critical stage. To take it to another level, the owners and/or tenants of all affected buildings — both commercial and residential — could register their phone numbers and email addresses to be able to receive the same notifications via an automated system.

Paul Lessard

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