It was hard to escape the deluge of coverage given last week to area flooding: Wilkes-Barre, Bloomsburg, Hershey, Lebanon, etc.

Houses were swept away. At least one death occurred. As the rivers recede back to within their banks, families are assessing the damages. It's hard to imagine the messes that's confronting them.

Except for Mahoning Creek, Lizard Creek, and a few other streams flooding mostly rural areas, our local area was pretty much spared the devastation that occurred in so many other locations.

Considering the amount of rain we had, and seeing the high level of the Lehigh River, we can only imagine what would have happened if flood control measures hadn't been taken decades before.

The Francis E. Walter Dam offered protection of Weissport, Walnutport, and other Lehigh River communities. The Beltzville Dam supplemented this protection.

Many old-timers remember the vast destruction caused in 1955 when Hurricane Connie and Hurricane Diane entered back-to-back, dumping large quantities of rain - a situation like occurred last week.

Even with Francis E. Walter Dam, it's hard to conceive what damage would have been inflicted upon the small town of Weissport had the flood levee not been built after the '55 floods.

Jim Thorpe's historic district has been the scene of many violent water incursions over the years. There's no doubt this would have happened again last week had it not been for Mauch Chunk Lake. The lake was built primarily as a flood-control tool, with recreation a secondary usage. Of course, we know it best for its recreational attributes, but the flood control aspect absolutely worked.

Thank God a previous generation had the foresight to take flood control seriously and take corrective measures. If not, the local toll from Hurricanes Irene and Katia would have been expensive and even more devastating than it was.

By RON GOWER

rgower@tnonline.com