Flooding is the leading cause of weather-related deaths in the United States (Schwab et al. , 2007: 54). Faced with a cacophony of future prospects that governs flooding such as population growth, pressure on land use, climate change and insurance market response, the world should be aware that 65% of its population is heavily affected by the threat of floods (Knight and Shamseldin, 2006: 6).
Moreover, most major cities where business and infrastructure thrives are also located along main river systems which lie openly vulnerable to disaster such as floods. Scientists have discussed that climate change causes a rise in mean sea level and humidity levels that give way to higher temperatures that influence the amount of rainfall in a regional basis. As a consequence, a higher incidence of flash floods is seen in areas where drier summers and wetter winters occur.
To define, flooding is “a general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation or two or more acres of normally dry land area or of two or more properties (at least one of which is your property) from: overflow of inland or tidal waters, Unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source like mudflow and collapse of land along the shore of a lake or similar body is categorized largely under general floods (Nwanna, 2004:28).
General Floods somehow are caused by precipitation over a longer period of time and often over a given river basin while flash flooding which is the by-product of heavy localized precipitation in a short time period over a given location is often considered a causative factor for widespread disruption. Their rapid build-up are somehow unpredictable and cause greater damage compare to common and general floods which take time to develop. Social and Economic Aspects of Flooding
The risks involved with floods vary in magnitude but it is seemingly disturbing to ignore the emphasis that floods are increasingly occurring in greater magnitude and severity while imposing higher risks to life and property. The social and economic consequences are catastrophically great which makes it worthwhile for urban communities to take notice of flood warning rather than ignore them. Nobody can stop floods and if faced with one, actions one can take to protect one’s family and reduce damage to a minimum is through mitigation (Nwanna, 2004: 35).
Danger lurks in a natural landscape and rather than seeing disorder imposed on a society, assessment is greatly needed for people to act on before an actual event or disaster takes place (Hinchliffe and Woodward, 2004: 120). Natural hazards and calamities though naturally produced may benefit others but in a large scale is often disadvantageous to many. Business which thrive are often shut down for days after a flood; work is deemed suspended and economic turnout is totally nil during the incidence of floods particularly in an urban community where most business rely on an atmosphere normally conducive to everyone.
Flood as a disaster has a negative impact on humans. In a human environment, nature can be a resource or a hazard. Floods under the commodity of natural occurrence is hazardous as social vulnerability exists that results to a negative impact upon the society and trigger a complex cycle of human response that affects both the natural and human environments (Emdadul, 2005: 484). My Flood Exposure Assessment Flood risk areas are separated by high, low and moderate, and are categorized into different zones as proclaimed by FEMA.
The use of Quantitative Precipitation Forecasting provides a range of forecasting techniques including storm tracking methods that assist in its flood forecasting system. Flood mapping as a flood management identified flood-magnitude frequency areas that estimated flood returns in a span of 100 years (Nwanna, 2004: 35). The report which came to me a few years ago revealed that my property is located is a high risk area. Flood insurance coverage dramatically rose over the last decade after reports and flood warnings.
At first, such report came of no extreme value yet when standard premium rates for properties started changing in different risk zones where property type and elevation relatively affects the complexity of the rate map, ones eyes would widen. A report conducted by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies revealed that in the years 1993 to 2002, flood disasters “affected more people across the globe (140 million per year on average) than all the other natural or technological disasters put together” (IFRC, 2003, p.
179). The future of climate change and the uncertainty of greenhouse gas emissions played a huge part in the incidence and accurate prediction of floods (Nwanna, 2004: 26). Paying special attention to this data made us open our eyes to the reality before us. Mine came when I received a mortgage loan from Wachovia in 2006 which required me to purchase flood insurance. I was puzzled and could not understand the veracity of this move because I could not see any immediate concern to take note of any flood hazards.
Further review revealed though that my property was located inland, in a low-lying area near creeks and rivers that are negatively prone to flooding. Such catastrophe according to the report would be caused by torrential rains, spring melt, etc. There is also a very small creek located within 100 feet of my home (which is always empty). However, in the event a flash flood or a runoff could occur, the street where I live and eventually my home would be flooded.
The weather pushed to limits by global warming however has provided my area with humid to naturally warm atmosphere which sometimes led me to the belief that the assessment is sometimes too high and should be reduced from high to moderate. Even though FEMA has determined that my residence is located in a high flood risk area, my insurance company has actually placed me in Risk Zone B which is categorized under moderate to low-risk area. FEMA assessment stated that insurance in this area is not necessary. It would seem that someone may have made a mistake or there may be other rules I am unaware of.
Yet of all flood insurance claims, 25% to 30% are paid to people in low to moderate-risk flood zones (FEMA, 2004). Regardless however of the percentage rates, I have decided to keep my flood insurance. I cannot bear to think that I have disregarded FEMA’s disturbing notice that my home has a 26% chance of being damaged by a flood during the course of a 30 year mortgage, compared to a 9% chance of a fire. My modest house is a single floor-single family finished enclosure with a total premium of $ 265. 00 per year.
From assessment, I am most vulnerable to flooding most likely due to a possible runoff from a nearby creek. In my own opinion based on experience, the risk is minimal; But I cannot risk any chance that would expose me and family to a disaster which could leave me with nowhere else to run. Just an inch of water can already cause damage to my home and property. Possible changes brought about by new land development which can also increase flood risk may happen at any time especially if the construction changes natural water runoff paths.
A runoff from a nearby creek is the most immediate threat to my home through the incidence of floods; however, flash flooding which can possibly occur at any time, and anywhere is my greatest fear. Interestingly, flash flooding is caused by slow-moving thunderstorms; repeated thunderstorms in a local area, or by heavy rains from hurricanes and tropical storms. Though dry at most times, a possible incidence of flash flooding upon careful assessment can likely occur along drainage channels near my property. The strength of such channels cannot definitely contain a deluge of water should a runoff occur.
Though most people believed that floods only happen to other regions where people live along flood-prone areas geographically identified, most people did not also believe that hijackers would fly two planes into the World Trade Centers either. Yet research has also shown that people are typically unaware of all the risks and choices they face. Planning for the immediate future overestimates an individual’s ability to cope when disaster strikes, and rely heavily on emergency relief (Mileti, 1999: 6). Flooding can definitely damage one’s home in several different ways.
Some aspects to take into account are the depth/elevation, flow, velocity, frequency, rate of rise and rate of fall, duration, and debris load which characteristically varies from one place to another. The location of your home can greatly determine the combination of these characteristics. Somehow, my home is at greater risk because of its condition. Built some forty years ago, the building structure is fairly poor with a very small crawlspace. My house sits on an unstable foundation owing to a soft soil bed made by a nearby creek that existed and may have seen wetter times long ago.
Soft soil beds are also prone to erosion owing to certain characteristics such as the type of soil. The flood history for my actual area is not available but neighboring areas have seen the same flood promise for years. Not only has the foundation been re-done a few years back to fix small construction issues but bigger problems have been totally ignored to definitely scrimp on expense. Another risk factor I have identified would be the wooden screen doors on both entrances to my home. On both cases, both doors at home swing inward instead of outward.
Doors which swing outward are necessarily more resistant to wind and flood damage compared to doors which swing inward. My old storm windows have seen better times while some windows have none at all. Depending on the height of a possible flood I’m almost certain that if it were above a certain height, a total loss would be demise for me and my family. The electrical systems installed at home are also out-dated and need to be replaced with new ones. My house is equipped with an old fuse box, wiring, and outlets this also creates a risk to my home.
Flood conditions hat leave electricity on would necessarily create accidental electrocutions and is a greater risk to life than I can imagine. Honestly, I have no flood resistant storage space in event of a flood. Though this is a minimal risk due to the presence and availability of an evacuation zone in my area, I also believe however that I can transport the things that matter most to me such as my dog, computer and television to the attic and pray we don’t get washed away. Flash Floods are difficult to predict, but we can usually determine general floods when they will occur.
However, I believe that a few inches of rain that would seep through the ground floor area would leave me at a complete loss in my opinion. Honestly, my BFE is about 2 feet well below the recommended levels for my zone. I also have no openings to allow entry and neither exit of flood waters nor the luxury of a motorized mechanism that would help pump out water from a flooded area. I have already accepted the fact that one of my greatest risks in flood hazards is being un-informed. Drainage lines along my area are outdated and have seen better days.
Soil erosion may have flooded the drainage system with unnecessary soot and grime that prevents free flow of water during a flood. My idea of constant dry and humid weather laughs off every possibility of torrential rains. For me, how can floods occur over an area which has been experiencing drier spells as seasons change, owed partially to global warming? I was uninformed or misinformed that the effects of global warming necessarily bring to light a greater possibility of unexpected weather conditions as climates change.
Such unexpected conditions exposed mankind to a cacophony of response that caters in natural hazards due to an imbalance in nature’s natural flow. I was totally unaware of the dangers of flooding until I took this class and found out the real facts for myself. Flood warnings and measures to ensure appropriate response by citizens can play a crucial role in saving lives and reducing injury during the onset of floods (Menne, 1999). I was under the initial impression that my homeowner’s insurance policy covered any flood damage.
Katrina has obviously brought more light and attention to this hazard than any other verbal or written warning. When the NFIP was established in 1968 to provide insurance protection for consumers afflicted by floods, many private insurers were probably unwilling to bear any economic risks associated with floods as a calamitous occurrence. NFIP reports however revealed in 2006 that over 5. 1 policies are in force. Mortgage allowance has also implemented homeowner’s direct purchase of insurance at least equal to the amount of their mortgage up to the maximum policy limit (NFIP, 2006:1).
Lower cost coverage was allowed and manifested for properties in specially designated flood risk prone areas. The Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2003 provided a program that helped reduced inventory of properties that have repetitive claims for flood damage. Notifications of coverage were made available to policy holders under this act as a pilot program designed to sustain flood losses. The impact of Hurricane Katrina and Rita has also helped address the needs of National Flood Insurance Program policy holders documents policies and procedures in claims (NFIP, 2006:4).
Although individuals at risk have the responsibility to purchase to protect their property so that recovery can occur, those who do not buy insurance take the risks and assume responsibility for their own actions when disaster strikes (Emdadul, 2005: 476). The concept of mitigation helps to lessen the impact of event and is implemented prior to a disaster as a non-structural measure that contains procedures like supportive neighborhood plans, developing disaster prevention activities, and post disaster recovery programs (Emdadul, 2005:413).
Evaluating my mitigation process, general plans would help to improve the condition of my homestead by strengthening the areas prone to breakages such as the windows and doors. Electrical restructuring along with construction repairs on loosened boards and roofs and paneling could be a possible mitigation process when funds are made available. Working along comfortably with other community dwellers helps everyone for disaster preparedness. Information responsibly disseminated and implemented at levels acceptable to everyone inclusive of procedures for evacuation and safety would be another great help to minimize damage to life.
Religiously adhering to the insurance policies with proper information would necessarily help during the post-disaster phase of mitigation. However above every other process is the mere fact and knowledge that we all need to help one another protect the environment where we all live in. It is the only world we can call our home and therefore we must strive to work hand in hand to preserve it. Disaster strikes when Mother Nature demands a full accounting and payment for all the previous misdeeds done to her. Works Cited Emdadul, Chowdhurry. (2005). Mitigation of Natural Hazards And Disasters: International Perspectives.
Hague: Springer. United States. National Flood Insurance Program. (2006). New Processes Aided Hurricane Katrina. Diane Publishing. United States. National Flood Insurance Program. (2004). National Flood Insurance Reform Act. Nwanna, Gladson I. (2004). Natural Disasters and Other Emergencies; What You Should Know. Frontline Publishers. Hinchliffe, Steve and Woodward Kath. (2004). The Natural And the Social: Uncertainty, Risk, Change. Routledge. Knight, Donald W. and Shamseldin, Asaad (2006). River Basin Modelling for Flood Risk Mitigation. Taylor & Francis.