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I bumped into a fellow landscaper at lunch yesterday and he suggested that if I wasn’t busy, I should drive over to a neighboring township to see the landslide extensively covered by local newspapers and television stations. He guessed the monetary damages could be $4 million.

OK, it was a beautiful mid-summer type day so I grabbed my big lens Nikon and Panasonic video camera and headed out.

What a big, muddy mess! And as you will see in my video below, it was a devastating tragedy for the families who had to demolish their homes since they remained perilously perched at the brink of this massive landslide.

While it will someday be determined what caused this landslide to occur, and who might be re$pon$ible, the heavy rain our area has received thus far in 2018 was definitely a contributing factor. July was a particularly wet month, and while normal precipitation for this time of year is 30-inches, we’ve had 46-inches… so the ground is super-saturated!

Warming temperatures from climate change enable the air to hold more moisture, and we’ve seen several “rain bomb” sorts of events in our local area where storms suddenly appear and dump large amounts of rain over a short period of time.

With southwestern Pennsylvania’s hills and valleys that water is channeled very quickly to low-lying areas resulting in severe flooding that damages homes, businesses and roads. Even my stylist (and a dozen other employees) had to move to higher ground while their business was disaster restored, and being in a low area next to a stream, history could easily repeat itself. One local official recently commented that his community has experienced two 100-year storms in less than five years!

Getting back to the residents who live, or lived, in this upscale suburban community, our super wet  2018 changed their lives in an entirely different fashion with this massive landslide. Community planners, whether in coastal cities threatened by ocean rise and superstorms, or in rapidly expanding suburban communities like North Strabane Township, need to take a fresh look at what increasingly severe storms will deliver and plan accordingly.

When large wooded or forested areas are clearcut and replaced with buildings, parking lots and drilling pads, our environment is adversely affected in many ways… less climate benefits from the trees and faster run-off of storm water are just two of the big ones. As singer Joni Mitchell put it so well, “They paved paradise, put up a parking lot.”

What are you doing to combat climate change?


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