New Study Opens Floodgates on Nation's 'Hidden Challenge'

December 13, 2018
People walking through flooded street
Photo: Unsplash/Jonathan Ford

In a new national study of U.S. urban flood risk, researchers at the University of Maryland and Texas A&M University surveyed flood management professionals from more than 350 municipalities in 48 states.

Because the urban floods are not always at the magnitude of coastal floods such asHurricane Harvey, and because there is so little data available overall, government officials are not always able to grasp the extent of the flooding problem, CityLab reports. Indeed, the report notes that part of the problem is that there is no single federal agency that collects and analyzes data on urban flooding as it happens. 

More than half of survey respondents say their communities were impacted by either moderate or larger urban floods; 83 percent say they'd experienced urban flooding at all. Notably, the research revealed multiple flooding events around the country on a near-daily basis.

When a major city like Houston or Detroit floods, the nation pays attention. The president may declare a state of emergency, and agencies at all levels of the government begin recovery efforts while monitoring the event. When flooding happens in a small town or only a small part of a city, though, the event may not be closely examined for its economic and social damages.

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