Saturday, February 18, 2006

Conference: St. Louis, Sacramento the next New Orleans

We Americans do a lot of things better than the rest of the world. One of those things is hand wringing and worrying:
St. Louis and Sacramento, California, may be the next two U.S. flooding disasters waiting to happen, with rivers prone to overflow and insufficient levees protecting developments that never should have been allowed, experts said on Saturday.

U.S. officials have not absorbed the lessons of Hurricane Katrina, in which floodwaters breached levees and inundated most of New Orleans, relying on outdated models to forecast risks to low-lying areas and allowing development in places that have been under 10 feet of water as recently as 1993.

First off, while those two cities are at risk of significant flooding, the danger is no where near as extreme as the danger to New Orleans. Secondly, people always flock to areas that have some sort of inherent natural danger. They do this because they view the advantages of the area as outweighing the risks, and most times they are right.

The best thing you can do is make people fully aware that by developing homes and businesses in floodplains, they are at high risk of total economic disaster and the government will not bail them out if that occurs. Insurance companies already refuse to sell flood insurance to high risk areas. If people know with absolute certainity that there will be no government bail out, either, then these areas will not be developed. Who is going to risk everything in a flood prone area without a safety net?

General information on The Great Flood of 1993 which affected the Missouri and Mississippi River basins and thus St. Louis.

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