To the editor:
Something about flat land attracts bulldozers. The silver lining of the great flood of 1951 has been the restraint of big and foolish development in the floodplain and, consequently, the conservation of the best farm soil in Kansas.
That's all over now. The planning staff at City Hall has recommended approval of an industrial park on the Pine family farm. The Planning Commission meeting is set for Oct. 24. This is the tipping point, folks. Our green northern gateway is about to become our industrial bottoms.
Read about floods at ks.water.usgs.gov/Kansas/pubs/fact-sheets/fs.041-01.html#HDR4. The experts agree that the 1951 flood can occur again. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, "Damage caused by flooding will vary by location depending on the amount of development in the flood plain." The flood in 1844 was 5 feet higher than in 1951 but was pre-development and therefore not a disaster. In 1993, levees failed up and down the Missouri. Our own river came within a foot of overtopping the dikes in Kansas City, Kan. - a whisker shy of becoming a billion-dollar disaster.
Everyone says that development in the flood plain is inevitable. It is not inevitable. It is not smart. In fact, it is not even legal without action by our City Commission to change zoning. What is inevitable, and beyond argument, is the next great flood. The disaster remains optional.