The Big E and the City of West Springfield are prepared for any possible flooding, should it occur.
West Springfield has had problems in the past because the city is in the floodplain, but the city has measures in place to deal with any flood impacts.
The hurricane season isn’t over until November 30, so it’s still possible for a tropical storm or hurricane to reach New England. West Springfield has a levee system that protects both the city and the Big E fairgrounds from flooding.
“It’s kind of like our dam that protects us from rising water in the two rivers,” said West Springfield Mayor William Reichelt. “So we built that wall really to prevent rising water from coming into the town.”
The levee system was developed over the years, but a big part of the expansion occurred after a major flood in 1955.
There are also nearly a dozen pumping stations that are undergoing a $2.5 million update to make sure if there’s any catastrophic flooding, they’re working well enough to force stormwater off city streets.
In 1938 a Category 3 hurricane blew through the Pioneer Valley and caused significant damage to the Big E fairgrounds.
“But since that time, the Army Corps. of engineers has built a dike along our entire property line,” said Gerard Kiernan, director of operations at the Big E. “And since the late 50s, flooding has never impacted the exposition in anyway whatsoever.”
Kiernan said the levee is absolutely crucial to the Big E’s operations, and it’s maintained very well, going through annual inspections every August before the fair.
As of late Wednesday afternoon, we are not expecting any impact from Hurricane Florence.
Although the Carolinas are still in the big storm’s path.