July 24, 2018
WAMU-FM's Jacob Fenston explores the consequences of sustained, heavy rains in the Washington, DC, area and measures that communities are taking to prepare for flooding, which could be increasingly common with climate change. Geoff Livingston remembers the first time his house in Alexandria’s Huntington neighborhood flooded. It was in 2006. The water quickly filled his basement to all the way to the ceiling, causing $70,000 in damage. Livingston and his wife didn’t have flood insurance, because there was no history of flooding in the neighborhood. But their house wasn’t the only one that experienced flooding that year: 160 homes were affected. “We thought, OK, they said it’s a 100-year flood,” he recalled. So they repaired the house and stayed put. But then, it happened again — just five years later. Big storms are becoming more common, especially in the mid-Atlantic, so the terms 100-year or 500-year storm no longer apply, according to Jessica Grannis, adaptation program director for the Georgetown Climate Center. “Those were based upon a situation where we had a stable climate, and you could look at the historical record and say with pretty good certainty that this is the 1 percent chance event, the 100-year storm event,” she explained.
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