Both flash floods from rain and the rising Delaware River have caused hundreds of small floods and dozens of historic floods in Lambertville’s past, with the worst, most recent Hurricane Ida floods causing tremendous damage to many homes and beloved local businesses.
Two years later, we remember how our favorite spots like Sneddon’s breakfast and Liberty Hall Pizza shut down for months from floods without knowledge of if they would even be able to reopen. I still remember when the ACME theater, a historic grocery store turned into a local screening room, could no longer host its Halloween Film Festival when the flood destroyed its interior. I know how devastated I was about the damage to places I had grown up loving, and I can’t imagine how much worse the pain must have been for the people who remember when the historic restaurants first opened or when the ACME theater was still a thriving supermarket.
Each flood takes an emotional and financial toll, causing our town that is supposed to be a getaway from the world’s problems to be a battleground against the elements.
Our local government has slowly worked to pass a few ordinances over the two years since Ida, such as the stormwater management ordinance and attempts at a flood ordinance.
Many local businesses have been able to thrive again with the help of our loving community. But soon these efforts will mean nothing if nothing is done about flooding prevention.
Local roads continue to be shut down as flash flooding increases. Local businesses continue to close down and delay reopenings, despite Lambertville’s commitment to its local business pride.
In October, a state of emergency was declared in New Jersey because of heavy rain.
Over the next 30 years, 66% of homes and a startling 98% of commercial properties in Lambertville are at an extreme risk of damages caused by flooding.
As more and more events are canceled and roads are closed, I fear for our Shad Fest, Pride Parade, Turkey Trot and countless other events that define our town that take place right alongside our river and canal. The flash floods wiped out whole streets of houses and businesses in a matter of minutes, and our solutions so far have largely been aimed at rebuilding and workarounds instead of very crucial prevention.
Many people still don’t know how climate change even relates to the flooding problem we have been having. Climate change drives these increasing and devastating floods. The heavy rainfall, the overflowing rivers, and the unpredictable weather patterns are no longer anomalies.
As sea levels rise, the Delaware River swells, and as the climate gets warmer, more water evaporates and rains down on us in huge storms.
We must acknowledge that this isn’t just a local problem; it’s a global crisis.
Lambertville needs us to show up to council meetings and express how much we care about our town’s future.
Lambertville needs us to inform other locals at our beloved events about how serious this problem could be for the protection of what we love.
Lambertville’s beauty and character are worth preserving. Together, we can unmask the climate crisis and ensure that the future of Lambertville is as bright as its history is rich.
Let’s work tirelessly to secure a brighter, drier future for Lambertville and all its residents.
Thomas Atkinson lives in New Hope.