Planning for Success in Flood Zones

Planning for Success in Flood Zones

Climate change is forcing us to reevaluate the flood risks of an area before we build. Weather extremes combined with a rising sea level cause billions of dollars annually in property and infrastructure damage after a flood.

We can no longer dismiss this type of natural disaster as one that occurs only in coastal cities, for example during hurricane season. States such as Texas, West Virginia, Missouri, Oklahoma, Illinois and Kentucky have experienced devastating effects from flash flooding in recent years.

Statistics from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) show that nearly 25 percent of businesses close permanently after a flood. In these cases the cost to rehabilitate is not feasible, so how do we work around the problem?

According to Robert Criss, PhD, professor of geology at Washington University in St. Louis, the historic 100-year flood levels on major Midwestern rivers are underestimated by as much as five feet.

  • On Midwestern river systems the average high-water mark is rising an inch per year. 
  • A few inches of flood water above a 100-year levee has catastrophic potential. 
  • River levee systems are not typically designed to contain higher than the projected 100-year level. 

While The FEMA Flood Map Service Center (MSC) methodically updates its flood hazard information, Criss suggests that we perform our own due diligence. Flood levels based on data from 100 hundred years ago no longer apply to the current conditions where rivers are controlled by man-made systems and are influenced by extreme weather cycles. Planning for success in flood zones requires foresight gleaned from the new information available to us now.

For more information about planning for success, please contact us.