Big government

That hurricane you may have heard about -- the one that underwhelmed South Jersey -- inundated western New England, where I grew up.

The normally placid Hoosic River churned madly through the heart of my Massachusetts hometown, upsetting me and my assumptions.

Since the 1950s, serpentine concrete channels  have contained the Hoosic in North Adams, walling off the water behind chain-link fences and in below-grade chutes.

I’ve always considered the great federal flood control project over-engineered and over-scaled, an unfortunate artifact from a less-enlightened era.

The grassroots effort to re-connect the Hoosic with the community?

I totally love it.

But YouTube videos of the river becoming a beast challenged my cozy notions about embracing the natural waters, etc.

The sheer force of all that water, sluicing safely through town within those much-maligned concrete walls, reminded me of something else.

That much-maligned bogeyman – our government – can do great things.

Thanks, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.