Flash flooding in Colorado. Parched crops in Iowa farm fields. They’ve got more in common than you might think.
Scientists believe that we may be in for a lot more extreme weather events and natural disasters because of our changing climate. That means changes on a lot of other fronts.
Extreme weather events carry heavy costs — in reduced crop yields, disaster assistance and relief, in ruined infrastructure, lost economic activity. Even human life. Nobody knows better than people in The Corridor: Figuring out how to prepare, survive and recover from increasingly unpredictable and severe weather won’t be easy or cheap.
Five years after the devastating 2008 floods, Cedar Rapids still is trying to figure out how to pay for flood protection that’s expected to cost more than $103 million for the east side of the river alone. This week, Cedar Rapids’ project was one of five flood-risk management projects to make it into a draft U.S. House water resource and development bill, according to The Gazette’s Rick Smith. Fingers crossed, it will stay put.
But as more cities and towns are hit by catastrophic weather events, it’s going to become increasingly difficult to afford recovery, let alone prevention.
Climate scientists already have documented statistically significant increases in heavy precipitation events, signs that climate change is driving flooding events, and changes in where these events are occurring. The trend is expected to continue.
That means more record-heavy rains, like the ones to blame for Colorado flooding that has affected communities for 150 miles, forcing the evacuation of thousands of residents and blamed for at least three deaths.
That means more dry months and more torrential storms like we’ve witnessed here in Iowa, where spring flooding bookended by severe drought has weakened crop yields for the second year in a row.
It means untold billions of government dollars spent on emergency response, on disaster relief. Billions more on crop insurance payment. Billions more in individual losses to businesses and residents affected by disaster.
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