• The most costly natural catastrophe in America is flooding.
  • The changing environment is likely to have an impact on the ways and places we live.
  • Louisiana, Florida Kentucky, West Virginia and Kentucky have the highest levels of flood-related risk.

A Monday report warns that flooding is threatening one-fourth the US’ critical infrastructure.

This report identifies how the flood threat to national infrastructure is being assessed. It includes utilities, airports and ports, as well as residential, commercial, street and local roads and infrastructure such schools, government buildings, and other social services.

“Our goal is to find the extent of flooding that renders infrastructure inoperable, or impossible to access,” stated Jeremy Porter from the First Street Foundation.

First Street Foundation is a Brooklyn-based nonprofit research and technology group that works to define America’s flood risk.

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According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), flooding has been the costliest natural catastrophe in America and the country has lost more than $1 trillion dollars in inflation adjusted dollars over the years 1980-80. 

The report, titled “The Third National Flood Risk Assessment: Infrastructure on the Brink,” took into account all types of floods, including slow-motion river flooding, fast-moving flash flooding, along with coastal flooding and storm surge from the ocean. 

Report authors state that there is now greater awareness about the human and economic costs of flooding-damaged infrastructure, as a result of increasing flood events across the country.

“As we saw a few weeks ago following the devastation of Hurricane Ida, our nation’s infrastructure is not built to a standard that protects against the level of flood risk we face today, let alone how those risks will grow over the next 30 years as the climate changes,” said Matthew Eby, founder and executive director of the First Street Foundation.

According to the report, Hurricane Ida caused widespread damage in America, including the destruction of the electricity grid in Louisiana and the flooding of the NYC transportation system, which resulted in nearly 100 deaths. The changing environment is likely to have a significant impact on the way we live and where we go.

States and cities most at risk

The report shows that Louisiana, Florida and Kentucky are the most vulnerable to flooding. West Virginia is home to 17 of the 20 highest-risk U.S. counties. Louisiana, which is home to Cameron Parish (the most at-risk county) alone, has six of the 20 highest risk parishes.

When shifting focus from counties to cites, a large percentage of the cities in the top 20 list is made up of cities from the states of Louisiana (three cities) and Florida (six cities). Among those cities, the major population centers of New Orleans (ranked 2nd); Miami (8th); St. Petersburg, Florida (12th); and Tampa (14th) all rank highly in the “most at risk” cities list. 

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It was also revealed that the risk to homes across the country is likely to rise by 10% in the next thirty years. 12.4 Million properties are at risk right now and 13.6 millions at risk for flooding in 2051. 

Over the next 30 years, due to the impacts of climate change, an additional 1.2 million residential properties, 66,000 commercial properties, 63,000 miles of roads, 6,100 pieces of social infrastructure and 2,000 pieces of critical infrastructure will also have flood risk that would render them inoperable, inaccessible or impassable.

“This report highlights the cities and counties whose vital infrastructure are most

at risk today, and will help inform where investment dollars should flow in order to best mitigate against that risk,” Eby said.

It can be costly to upgrade infrastructure

However, infrastructure improvements can still be costly. Matthew Kahn is a Professor of Economics at the University of Southern California. He was not part of this report. However, high-risk flooding zones that do not have adequate investments in flood prevention can lead to hidden costs.

If an area gains a reputation for being susceptible to extreme climate events, people won’t buy homes and businesses won’t house their headquarters there, Kahn said.

“Those cities that prove to not be climate resilient – they’re going to be at a disadvantage,” he said. “They’re going to have brain drain.”

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It is important to understand which regions of the United States are susceptible to flooding. This will also affect how homeowners choose to purchase homes and what efforts they make to protect their home.

A homebuyer should consider the locality when looking for a place to live. This includes factors such as crime rates or schools. Kahn stated that climate change risks are the latest factor in home-buying.

Bloomberg’s analysis of U.S. property data from 2007 to 2017 revealed that homes located in high-risk flood areas have seen their average value decline over the last decade.

“You’re more likely to duck if you know the punch is coming,” Kahn said.

You can access the complete First Street Flood Report at this link.

Source: USAToday.com

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