Friday, August 17, 2012

Cities, prepare for a rainy day

Joanna Masic in China Daily: In recent weeks, extreme weather has taken many Chinese cities by surprise. On July 21, a heavy downpour in Beijing caused extensive flooding and claimed many lives. It also devastated homes and businesses and disrupted transport and essential services. Last week, while floods wreaked havoc in Shiyan, Hubei province, a series of typhoons lashed the cities on China's eastern coast, forcing widespread evacuations and resulting in severe damage and economic loss.

These events have left the public wondering whether urban infrastructure has the capacity to cope with extreme weather and whether weather warning and disaster response systems are adequate.

Chinese cities are not the only ones facing difficulties in preparing for extreme weather and responding to floods. Asian cities are particularly vulnerable because of their high density of population, weak infrastructure and because large numbers of people live in flood-prone areas.

...Urban storm water drainage systems are typically built to withstand the maximum rainfall expected once in a few years. The standards vary depending on the conditions and information available when the infrastructure is designed. However, in many parts of the world, heavy rain is occurring more frequently and with higher intensity. Urban areas are growing faster than the upgrade of designs or increase in infrastructure capacity....

A flood in Shanghai from Typhoon Wipha in 2007, shot by lauraelizabeth, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

No comments: