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Torrential downpours now swelling rivers in Texas and heavy rains that inundated Houston earlier in April are harbingers of rising inland flood risk, not just in Texas and the Southwest but throughout the country.

Backstory

According to the National Climate Assessment, extreme rain is increasing nationwide, especially in the Northeast, Midwest and upper Great Plains, and flooding may intensify in other regions of the country. Flash floods and urban flooding linked to heavy rain are also expected to increase.

Adaptation angle

Many states aren’t prepared for the increasing risk of flooding. 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 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, especially for inundated roads where most of the fatalities in Texas have taken place?
  • How well is your area prepared for 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 floodwaters 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 for 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 Reporter’s Guide to Climate Adaptation database.

A. Adam Glenn  
 



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