It's the Environment, Stupid.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Flood damage - shocking?

As the waters recede and damages are assessed, the devastation in the northeastern US becomes more apparent.

According to a Reuters article, via Planet Ark, a wealthy resident is quoted as saying: "'On a road called Riverside Drive [in Binghamton, NY] there's huge million-dollar homes with instant swimming pools in their backyards,' he said. 'And we're supposed to get more rain, it's insane.'" On a helicopter tour to survey parts of the state, NY gov George Pataki put the damage of homes, businesses and roads close to $100m.

I'm always shocked at how shocked people are after flood/storm damage is assesed. Not to discount the lives that are affected by these tragedies - but why aren't we more prepared? Why doesn't anyone consider how an extreme amount of rainfall might affect where people buy/build houses, or when the city builds roads, or extends permits for businesses to build vast gigantic parking lots (or other such impervious surfaces), or allows developers to get rid of natural vegetation?

We must move from a reactionary approach to a more precautionary approach when planning/building our cities/suburbs. Anticipating and preparing for "natural disasters" must become a priority because more rain will come, and storms will continue to wreak havoc on our increasingly built-up environments, (and in certain areas the rain won't come and cause droughts and other conditions equally as damaging).

I've addressed some of these issues before in this blog here and here and here. There aren't any easy answers, but there's no reason we should continue to not learn from the past (New Orleans) or from others who are beginning to realize the benefits of planning for the future (the Netherlands.)

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