Water, Water Everywhere: Enough is Enough part 1

Nashville is experiencing some of the worst floods in the city's history due to the near 16 inches of rain the city received over the weekend.  According to CNN the rains this weekend were responsible for 27 deaths in the Southeast:

At least 27 deaths were blamed on flooding in the Southeast, 18 of them in Tennessee. And 10 of those Tennessee deaths occurred in Davidson County including Nashville, authorities said.

All of this leaves us mortals feeling pretty helpless (although I did see a Facebook friend in Nashville praying for a stop to the rain). And yet you have to wonder, "Isn't there something that can be done to prevent this?"

Well, maybe there is.  Aside from those who say Climate Change is playing a role in increased rainfall (I know parts of Atlanta got flooded this weekend for the second time in less than a year; this happening right after a record drought...) there is something else that YOU can do to help prevent record flooding:

Encourage your city planners and elected officials to plan sustainably and work to prevent over-development!

Scientific American touched on this topic 2 years ago when the Midwest was experiencing record flooding in an article titled, "When the Levee Breaks: Is the Culprit Rain--or Overdevelopment?".  From the article:

Whenever you have development, you are going to increase the runoff, increase how much the rivers and streams have to carry," says civil engineer W. Gene Corley, a senior vice president at CTLGroup

The goal of Mapawatt is to encourage others to take action in their daily lives on conservation issues related to energy and water.  Instead of just reporting on the fact that there have been record rainfalls, we want to steer the dialog into what can be done to prevent record flooding in the future to save you, the homeowner.  And aside from praying , we all have the power to speak with elected officials and explain that poor developmental planning plays a factor in flooding.  Your message to your city planning board could be something like this (please, feel free to plagiarize):

Dear Wise and Noble elected official, I'm sure you are already aware of the benefits that our local environment provide to us, but I would just like to remind you that not only does undeveloped land provide:

  • cleaner air
  • a place to enjoy a picnic
  • a place for animals to play other than playing dead on the side of the road
  • nice smells (it's approaching honeysuckle season!)
  • natural beauty

But undeveloped land also absorbs rainfall.  When you develop land, the water rushes along pavement into our sewer system and our creeks and rivers and results in unnaturally high levels that occasionally flood and spill back into my house.  My significant other really hates it when his/her socks get wet while getting his/her coffee in the morning after a weekend of strong rain.  Also, my hovercraft is broken and my car doesn't swim, so flooding makes it hard for me to make it to work and earn a living; which results in an increased aversion to paying my taxes.  Please ensure that when planning for future development, you take into account all of the benefits currently provided by this city's/county's natural landscape.  If you do this I might vote for you. (note: be sure to include this last part.  You may also want to say something like, "By the way, I love your new haircut".  Politicians love compliments.)

Of course this may be too much effort for some.  If that's the case and you live anywhere that could be in a potential flood plain, at least buy flood insurance...

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Thanks for posting this Chris. Due to the lack of media attention, most of the nation doesn't realize just how bad things are here. This event has been called "a thousand year flood" and "the worst flooding ever seen outside of a hurricane." We seen many areas flood that were never considered in a flood zone. There are many homes and businesses that are destroyed and the owners never purchased flood insurance. They thought they never needed to. Here is a great article that has finally got some national attention that explains the lack of media attention.
Flooding is part of the natural cycle of things, as are draughts. We humans only humor ourselves believing that we can do 'something' about weather cycles.
Jim, You are right, flooding is completely flood plains. Wouldnt you agree that if you pave a whole forest over with blacktop that surrounding neighborhoods will experience worse flooding? Again, flooding is natural, so why are we developing land in areas that are prone to flood? This is something the city planners need to recognize and is at the core of the argument.

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