Rep. Marc Molinaro (Photo by Kelly Marsh, The Journal News)

NY - Opinion: Flood-soaked New York needs urgent action on climate now. Congress must act

100-year floods are supposed to happen — well, once every 100 years. That’s no longer the case.

Our climate is changing, and a lost focus on resource preservation, physical infrastructure investment, and conservation-based solutions is leaving us more vulnerable than ever.

In recent months, we've seen extreme weather patterns create frightening flood conditions in New Lebanon, the Hudson Valley region, and across Upstate New York. These floods have destroyed homes, businesses, entire roadways, and, tragically, taken lives.

It’s not just damage, these floods are creating serious financial burdens too. In Tompkins County, flooding has become so prevalent that homeowners may soon be forced to purchase expensive flood insurance plans due to their heightened risk.

Today, we are seeing how decades of underinvestment and a lack of focus and coordination have left us ill-prepared for these environmental challenges.


Rep. Marc Molinaro, a Republican, represents New York's 19th Congressional District.


In this critical moment, we don't need more lectures; we need decisive action. We must assess our current situation, better care for our natural resources and strengthen our physical infrastructure.

One immediate step we can take is to pass the Flooding Prevention, Assessment, and Restoration Act, a bill I worked on with Rep. Don Davis, a Democrat, specifically tailored to support communities in Upstate New York.

This legislation acknowledges that the federal government cannot merely be a reactive force after a flood disaster. We must instead proactively prepare for, respond to, and prevent floods.

Here's how my bill works:

  • First, it empowers at-risk communities to utilize the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Emergency Watershed Protection Program to construct flood prevention infrastructure that surpasses the standards of damaged infrastructure. Confusingly, current regulations prohibit communities from rebuilding infrastructure to a higher standard, inhibiting smart investments that can better prevent future flooding.
  • Second, my bill recognizes that the agricultural community plays a crucial role in flood protection by creating natural defenses. To mitigate flood risk on farmland and incentivize farmers to support community-wide flood prevention efforts, the bill directs the USDA to produce a report that will collect data on agricultural vulnerabilities, soil conservation practices, crop selection and other farming methods that can mitigate future floods.
  • Third, for communities with limited resources, my bill significantly reduces the local cost share for flood mitigation projects funded through the USDA's Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations Program. This will allow smaller, rural communities in Upstate New York to afford infrastructure upgrades, so the wealth of your town is never a factor in whether or not you get flooded.

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