[Sun Gazette editorials represent the viewpoint of Sun Gazette Newspapers, which provides content to, but is otherwise unaffiliated with, InsideNoVa or Rappahannock Media LLC.]
Some years back, a member of our staff called up GEICO and had them add flood insurance to the family homeowners’ policy. That might seem odd, given that this person lived well above ground level in a condominium.
That call came after heavy rains of a June gone by, when a number of people in Arlington came home to (or awoke to) their toidees backing up when the county government’s sewer system couldn’t handle the volume and simply gave up.
A number of these folks we know in that situation called the county government to see what could be done about cleanup, and all got essentially the same response: “That’s your problem, not ours.”
In the wake of the July 8 deluge – the power of Mother Nature on full display – Arlington officials seem to have gone into something of a defensive crouch. County Board members rejiggered the order of the July 13 County Board meeting so they could get out ahead of the anger sure to be voiced during the public-comment period that usually starts things off.
The comments of county leaders and staff were comprehensive, but not necessarily reassuring. And while it’s fair in some cases to lay blame on problems that occurred in the wake of the July 8 storm on past decisions by the county government, it’s best not to overdo the castigation. There’s only so much a local government – any government, really – can do to battle Mother Nature. She was here long before we got here; she is going to be here long after we’re gone. Civilization, in fact, is dependent on her sufferance, and no government is going to change that.
What to do? We can all start by ensuring that we have taken all reasonable precautions to protect our own property from weather events. Yes, there are actions to be taken collectively (through local government), but it all starts with being prepared individually, not just so we emerge from future episodes with less damage, but that we are not a burden on the broader community when such a weather crisis hits.