When it comes to natural disasters, floods are the WORST - at least in the US - causing more damage and death in the last 100 years, than any other disaster.
And like most weather events, they’re increasing both inland and on the coast due to climate change.
But it’s important to note that floods aren’t ALL bad news, in fact, they actually benefit some ecosystems.
In YellowStone National park, historic flooding had a restorative effect on the ecosystem: “floods are extremely healthy for rivers, and especially for a river like the Yellowstone”, says Scott Bosse, the director of American River’s Northern Rockies office, by providing new spawning grounds and food for trout and a boost for riverside vegetation - eliminating invasive species and creating fertile soil for native species like the Cottonwood. (National Geographic)
So with that in mind, here are:
5 Things We Can Do to Live More Harmoniously With Floods
1- Invest in Green Roofs
“The concrete jungle can’t soak up rainwater, so in heavy downpours it has nowhere to go except into drains, overloading them and setting off flash floods.” (The Guardian, UK)In 2009, the City of Toronto was the first in North America to enact a by-law requiring all developments over a certain size to dedicate a percentage of the available roof space to green roofs, in an effort to reduce the impacts of flash flooding and lower temperatures.
“A study done in the New York Metropolitan Region determined that a standard roof captures about 24% of rainfall during a standard storm whereas a green roof was able to capture 80% of the precipitation.” (The Weather Network)
2- Support NATURE Restoration on Coasts
Wetlands and Dunes have been proven to minimize the impacts of Hurricane related flooding. When Hurricane Sandy hit the Atlantic Coast in 2012, it inflicted nearly $70 billion in damage, making it was the second-costliest hurricane in U.S. history until surpassed by Hurricanes Harvey and Maria in 2017, but the area around Cape May, New Jersey fared pretty well because of conservation efforts to restore coastal wetlands and dunes, which can reduce wave energy by over 50 percent! (The Nature Conservancy)
3- Encourage THIRSTY CONCRETE Projects
Roads, parking lots and sidewalks are the enemy when it comes to flash floods, because they increase water runoff, so some companies are developing ‘permeable concrete’ that not only absorbs the water, but also slows the transfer of unwanted chemicals, pesticides and fertilizers from entering our storm water systems, where they are more likely to spill over into our lakes, rivers and oceans.
4- Protect Coral Reefs to SAVE MORE MONEY!!!
Coral reefs have been shown to provide $1.8 BILLION in flood protection benefits every year, so the next time you try to convince your fiscally conservative neighbour to support an environmental project, drop that little figure on them instead of trying to appeal to their sense of ‘eco-justice’!!!
“Coral reefs can substantially reduce coastal flooding and erosion by dissipating as much as 97 percent of incident wave energy. Reefs function like low-crested breakwaters, with hydrodynamic behavior well characterized by coastal engineering models.” (US Geological Survey)
5- Learn to Surf!
Sometimes, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. And as an avid whitewater kayaker, I personally LIVE for floods. From my hometown of Toronto, Ontario, I could spend up to 5 hours driving to my preferred river to surf an epic wave, but when the rains pour and the rivers flood, I can be surfing on the Humber River in a mere 10 minutes. And when it REALLY floods out… the waves are pretty epic, so when you’ve done everything you can to prevent the impact of a flood, gear up and enjoy (with of course the proper level of training, local knowledge and safety in place).
Coming of age in the 90s, I was put off by Environmentalism. It felt like an ‘us vs. them’ FIGHT, that always turned ‘business guys’ into the villains and the enviro activists as the heroes. And in my opinion, that just leads to more silos, fighting and disconnection from each other - and ultimately - our planet.
That’s why I love nature-based solutions that show economic, environmental and overall health benefits. Because they exist. And they can help everyone!
If you’d like to help our ongoing journey to provide real solutions to emissions and plastic pollution please visit our shop - because for every dollar you spend, roughly $.20 goes back into new and effective ways to live more sustainably today… and tomorrow.