During my time on the Select Board, although I mentioned my thoughts about the Montgomery Dam and river restoration a number of times, I don’t believe that many people registered what I was talking about. So, I thought putting it in print might help — especially now as a town committee works to come up with answers on how to proceed with both issues.

For over two decades I was a reserve deputy with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department specializing in Search & Rescue. One of my specialized trainings was in Swiftwater rescue. Because of that training and experience, I study the news about increased rain events very closely. If you’ve paid any attention to the damage created by hurricanes in the recent past, you’ll have seen that most of the damage is not from the wind — it’s from the heavy rain and flooding that happens as the storms move ever so slowly over land.

If you remember fairy tales from childhood, Goldilocks discovered three bowls of porridge. One was too hot; one was too cold, and one was just right.

In 2011 Hurricane Irene was headed right up the Maine coast and at the last moment it veered west, and the wind and huge rain events hit and devastated great swaths of land in Vermont and New Hampshire — towns, buildings, roads, bridges, etc. The flooding was disastrous. This past year Hurricane Fiona swerved to the east and missed Maine entirely and hit Newfoundland, Canada. It was described as the “costliest and most intense” storm ever to hit the area. One went too far west, and one went too far east, but I worry that like Goldilocks someday Camden will find a storm that is “just right.”

Which brings me to a second thought about Goldilocks. After the porridge she found three beds — one was too hard, one was too soft, and one was just right.

Similarly, half of Camden is thinking that river restoration is the way we should go and the other half thinks saving the Montgomery Dam is what we need to do. But I worry about the hurricane that is “just right” for Camden and that’s where I differ from both the restoration and the Dam people. I voted to postpone both the vote for river restoration and the vote to preserve the Montgomery Dam because I thought no one was asking (well, I was, but no one seemed to be listening) and getting the answer to the right question.

What does Camden need to do to protect our wonderful, beautiful, magical town from the ever-increasing severe rain events that one day will visit us? That’s not a fairy tale. The Megunticook River flows right under Route 1 in the center of town. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that the same kind of storm, rain or flood event that has devastated other areas could rip up the bridge (acknowledged to be in terrible condition) over the river there and devastate downtown Camden.

So, I’m hoping the committee working on the concerns of the river people and the Dam people are thinking about the big picture and are getting hydraulic studies done that will tell us what happens if we get the Goldilocks storm that is “just right” for Camden.

I always try to remember to look at the big picture not just the smaller items and to always be aware of the unintended consequences of any action taken.

I’m all for river restoration and at the same time saving the Montgomery Dam. I’m hoping that modern science can find that solution.

But first let’s get the information and science we need so we can make an educated decision and “Save Camden.”

Marc Ratner
Camden