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Urban flooding causing economic loss, social disruption, and housing inequality

Extensive suburban development, aging and poorly maintained infrastructure, and more intense rainfall mean more flooding.

December 13, 2018 |
Flooded neighborhood

Courtesy Pixabay

Several factors are contributing to increased vulnerability to flooding in urban areas, according to The Growing Threat of Urban Flooding: A National Challengea new report by the University of Maryland and Texas A&M University.

As the nation experiences more intense rainfall events, many cities have inadequate infrastructure to cope, the report says. Adding to the problem has been rapid suburban and urban land development that has increased the amount of stormwater runoff.

With multiple government agencies at all levels having some responsibility for these issues, there is lack of collaboration and coordination needed to address technical and political challenges. For example, information on how property owners can reduce their flood risk is not accessible or well-articulated.

In addition, a significant number of areas vulnerable to urban flooding are not identified by FEMA National Flood Insurance Program maps. The reports’ authors made a series of recommendations including that Congress assign one federal agency to provide interim oversight of federal support of urban flood mitigation activities.

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