Sunday, August 1, 2010

Katrina showed levees faulty

Anne Paine in the Tennessean: Levees gained the nation's attention after levee failures in New Orleans brought catastrophic flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and scores of people died. But the structures have been on the radar screen of the Association of State Floodplain Managers for much longer.

"Levees do not make you safe," said Larry Larson, executive director of the association. They fail — leaking and breaking — or eventually a higher flood will hit, he said. If a levee is accredited by FEMA for a 100-year flood, the people who build behind it don't have to have flood insurance

…Levees are found all across the country, but they aren't necessarily maintained, and people might not even be aware of them. …Most levees are privately owned or owned by municipalities. One problem is that flood maps are drawn according to past flooding events and without an eye to the future, Larson said.

New development is continually adding to an increase in water runoff to streams and creeks. Less rain sinks into the earth with more pavement and buildings. Also, more intense rainfalls are being seen with climate change, he said….

The 17th Street Canal breach in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005

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