According to a report by the Federal Emergency Management Agency ( FEMA,) flooding is considered to be one of most frequent and severe threats in the United States. In addition, it is one of the most costly natural disasters that continues to face the nation. The statistics further illustrate that ninety percent of all natural disasters can be related to flooding. The question worth asking is how flooding can be associated with climate change. There are 10 states that are vulnerable to flooding, most of which are located close to the water basin. These states include Georgia, Virginia, New Jersey, Massachusetts, North and South Carolina, New York, California, Florida and Louisiana. Extreme weather, the rise in sea level and climate change are increasingly to blame for the growing number of communities that are finding themselves underwater (Denchak). As a result, there is a need to examine the impacts associated with floods and how people living, especially in the highlighted states, can deal with it.
There are different factors that can be highlighted as to the reasons for floods in America. One of the dynamics is associated with weather patterns namely storm surge, sudden snowmelt and heavy and prolonged rains. On the other hand, there are human-driven factors that have largely contributed to climate change. The manner in which people are managing their water waves is largely to blame for the increasing levels of floods. The research conducted by Feng et al, noted that urbanization results in an increase in impervious surfaces and as a result. They reduce hydrologic response time. The outcome is what has been witnessed in the 10 states that are prone to increased flooding. The other aspect worth acknowledging is that infrastructures that are not maintained can influence urban flooding. The size and frequency of river flooding has been negatively impacted by warmer temperatures. These are likely to cause more water to evaporate from the oceans and land hence changing the frequency and size of heavy precipitation events (EPA).
The consequences of flooding are devastating and may upend lives and lead to loss of lives and property. As noted by Denchak, loss of life is the most obvious consequence of flooding. It cost the taxpayer an estimated $48.6 billion as recorded between 1998 and 2014 to repair and replace flood-damaged utilities, roads, bridges and other public infrastructure. In most cases, Feng et al opines that floods that occur without prior warning can result in several loss of lives. The loss of livelihood among people who were depending on washed-out utilities is the other consequence of flooding. It is worth noting that economic activities usually come to a standstill when communication links and infrastructure are damaged and disrupted. An environment of decreased purchasing and production power in the given states is the other impact of flooding. There are long-term consequences such as disruption of electricity, healthcare and education among others.
The fact that floods are inevitable, in light of climate change, there are ways that people can adapt to them through mitigation measures. The first measure is through floodwater diversion and storage. There is a controlled release of water outside the residential areas through the diversion of water into pipes, reservoirs or in wetlands (FEMA). The second perspective is through floodplain and stream restoration. Bank erosion can be limited as a result of floodplains and streams. The number of floods and their severity can therefore be reduced by the use of floodplains that are used to store storm water runoff (Feng et al). The third strategy is by low impact development or green infrastructure. These will be able to mitigate the impact of flooding by storing water.
April 10, 2019 Melissa Denchak. “Flooding and Climate Change: Everything You Need to Know.” NRDC, 4 Nov. 2020, https://www.nrdc.org/stories/flooding-and-climate-change-everything-you-need-know
EPA. “Climate Change Indicators: River Flooding.” Environmental Protection Agency, https://www.epa.gov/climate-indicators/climate-change-indicators-river-flooding
Feng, B., Zhang, Y. & Bourke, R. Urbanization impacts on flood risks based on urban growth data and coupled flood models. Nat Hazards 106, 613–627 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11069-020-04480-0
FEMA. “Historic Disasters” Federal Emergency Management Agency, https://www.fema.gov/disaster/historic