Washington Post: Flood risk will rise with climate change, experts say

November 2, 2012

As the Northeast continues to struggle with the aftermath of super storm Sandy, a growing number of Americans are starting to realize just how unprepared the nation is for the climate changes that are underway.  

In this Washington Post piece, reporter Juliet Eilprin cites a number of experts, including Vicki Arroyo of the Georgetown Climate Center, who say the government has underestimated how much of the nation is prone to flooding as a result of sea-level rise and other climate changes.  In particular, the Federal Emergency Management Agency needs to change how it draws its flood maps and responds to extreme storms, Arroyo said.

Flood planning is based on historical data rather than future projections. And much of the infrastructure damaged in a storm is rebuilt exactly the same way, without taking into account the climatic changes underway.

FEMA draws the flood maps to provide guidelines to local authorities who determine where things can be built. Many developers and homeowners have resisted the idea of expanding the definition of flood risk because it raises costs and can restrict development. Policymakers “are afraid of the political backlash,” said Georgetown Climate Center executive director Vicki Arroyo.

To read the complete article, please click here.