IN THE NEWS: The torrential downpours that have swollen rivers in Texas in recent days, taking at least six lives, and heavy rains that inundated Houston earlier in April, costing eight lives and forcing the evacuation of thousands, are harbingers of rising inland flood risk, not just in Texas and the Southwest, but through the country.
BACKSTORY: Experts in a federal study warn extreme rain is increasing nationally, especially in the Northeast, Midwest and upper Great Plains, and that flooding may intensify in many regions of the country. Flash floods and urban flooding linked to heavy rain are also expected to increase.
ADAPTATION ANGLE: But many states aren’t prepared for the rising risk. According to an analysis of more than 30 states, half have taken no action to plan for future changes in inland flooding risks or implemented strategies to address them. Among those receiving especially poor grades are Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee and West Virginia.
QUESTIONS TO ASK:
- What’s the risk in your region, and how well are authorities prepared?
- What early warning systems are in place, including for inundated roads where most of the fatalities in Texas have taken place?
- How well is your area prepared for the power outages, transportation problems and other impacts that can come with flooding?
- What are the risks to other infrastructure, such as water treatment facilities?
- What are the risks of local flood waters carrying toxins or other health hazards?
- What procedures are in place for local dams to help with flood control?
- How well are emergency responders prepared for floods and flood rescues?
- What can residents do to better prepare and be safe during floods?
- Are rising flood insurance costs an issue locally?
REPORTING RESOURCES: Dig deeper on the flood risk and response story using the more than three dozen flood-related resources in the database of the Reporter’s Guide to Climate Adaptation:
- Report on region-by-region extreme weather risks using the 2014 National Climate Assessment, which has sections on heavy rains and on flooding.
- Report on your state’s inland flooding threat level and preparedness using Climate Central’s States At Risk Report Card, which has state-by-state detail on inland flooding risk.
- Calculate the amount of rainwater expected at any specific site in the U.S. with the EPA’s National Stormwater Calculator.
- Research urban flood resilience ideas on the 100ResilientCities site, such as case studies from Tulsa, Norfolk and Boulder
- Find out about transportation resilience from the Federal Highway Administration
- See how how water utilities are preparing for inland flooding risk from this EPA site, including this case study video from a Minnesota municipality.
- Dig into flood management policy issues in the FEMA web site on climate change response, and on community floodplain management strategies from the Association of State Floodplain Managers.
Posted by A. Adam Glenn on June 6, 2016