Friday, September 23, 2011

Floodplain expert talks prevention at conference

Kurt Allemeier in the Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa): Preventing flood damage beforehand is better than emergency relief after the disaster, a national floodplain expert said Thursday at the Upper Mississippi River Conference. Larry Larson, the executive director of the Association of State Floodplain Managers, gave the conference’s keynote speech at the Isle of Capri Conference Center. He praised Davenport for its approach to flood management with no levee and few hazards or structures in the floodplain.

“Davenport made the wise decision that it wanted to be connected to the river,” he said. With more intense flooding happening more frequently, mitigation is necessary, Larson said. “If your community is going to be resilient, you need to plan for a larger event,” he said. “If we were to spend more on mitigation up front, instead of disaster relief, we’d be better off.”

He pointed out that most communities build only to the 100-year flood level and that isn’t good enough anymore. As an illustration he showed photographs of this year’s Missouri River flooding that covered Interstate 29 and encroached on a nuclear power plant in Nebraska and a coal power plant near Sioux City. The Missouri River remained over flood stage on Thursday.

He also said flood maps should be considered for what can happen in the future, rather basing flood protection on previous flooding. “We can’t use the past to predict the future,” he said. “Our maps of the past are going to have to change because of climate change and hydrology.”...

Davenport, Iowa, May 4, 2001 -- Davenport's River Street lived up to its name when the Mississippi River flowed over its banks and flooded the city's downtown riverfront. David Teska/FEMA News Photo

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