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The risk of flooding at high tide accelerates, endangering the coastal economy

As the sea level rises, it’s easy to overlook the intricacies of higher waters. It is much harder to forget that salt water floods the streets more often, disrupting everyday life and exacerbating existing problems.

The frequency of high tide floods along the U.S. coast has doubled since 2000 and is expected to increase five to fifteen times over the next 30 years compared to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Warning with new report Posted July 14, 2021.

I work with the coastal community The northern Gulf of Mexico faces the risk of sea level rise in an effort to avoid damage and avoidable costs, such as infrastructure disruption, declining value of assets and declining returns. Information such as the NOAA report is important in supporting the success of these communities.

The United States experienced an average of four days of storm surge flooding across the country last year, but the numbers alone don’t tell the whole picture. In some areas, many more areas were observed. There were record numbers of high tide flood days in 2020 along the Gulf of Mexico and the southeast Atlantic coast. The city of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, has gone from a three-day storm surge in 2000 to 22 days in 2020.

NOAA’s annual storm surge report is the national average of high tide floods for 3-7 days this year. Differences are expected depending on the region. The western part of the Gulf, including Texas and Louisiana, is expected to experience the heaviest flooding within 7-15 days. High tide flooding is expected to occur in the northeast Atlantic Ocean for 6 to 11 days. The Pacific coast is expected to last 3 to 7 days, but flooding will occur further north.

The so-called “nuisance” floods neglect the damage

Flooding at high tide impedes the use of roads and increases wear and tear on stormwater and drainage systems. The impact may seem minor, but as the frequency increases, these seemingly inconvenient flood days can have long-term consequences.

Areas Already Threatened by Sea Level Rise Property values ​​are declining, especially if cities and landlords have not taken steps to improve flood resistance. Insurance premiums are starting to rise.

Flooded roads can create dangerous situations where first responders find it difficult to reach people in need safely. Businesses receive fewer visitors. I feel a depressed loss of income. The more often this happens, the more it spreads to the entire coastal economy. It affects tax revenues and can undermine community ties.

rising sea levels disproportionately affect poor and marginalized communities, and the effects of flooding at high tide were no exception. People living in some of the underserved coastal areas face higher premiums due to the risk of floods and storms. Sometimes more than 90% An increase in insurance policies with a single zip code is to be expected.

How to reduce the threat of flooding at high tide

NOAA’s forecasts provide valuable foresight to help local governments, property owners and other coastal stakeholders act before the sea level rises.

The community has improved its infrastructure, such as the elevation of roads and the installation of backflow prevention devices in the rainwater systems, the increase in freeboards, the required distance between the ground floor causeway and base flood level, and base outside of the current FEMA flood zone. You can change building standards such as the designation of the flood level. Help the community prepare to withstand the high seas. Communities can also work with nature to protect and restore coastal habitats that provide natural protection against flooding, such as wetlands and barrier islands.

An example of an aggressive city is Pensacola, Florida. Recently completed Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Analysis To determine where high tide flooding begins to strain infrastructure, low income areas, economic hot spots and critical facilities. The city could recommend where to prioritize actions and what actions are needed to prevent high tide flooding from being costly or damaging.

The message of the new report is clear. High tide flooding and other more severe types of flooding have already increased with rising sea levels and are expected to accelerate in the coming years. The community has the opportunity to act now to reduce its impact.

Coastal residents can contact local governments to encourage positive thinking. For more information on how to participate in Coastal Resilience, there are Coastal Resilience Specialists in almost all Coastal and Great Lakes states. Sea Grant Program..Each region NOAA Office for Coastal Management We can also provide advice on how to participate.

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Author: Renee Collini-Coastal Climate Resilience Specialist, Mississippi State University

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Mary Cashion

The author Mary Cashion