Flooding is one of the most common and destructive natural hazards on Earth. In fact, as the landscape changes and we experience more heavy rainfall from climate change, many inland areas are flooding more often1.
As the threat of global warming worsens, floods will only get more intense and occur more frequently2. In fact, studies have shown that human-induced climate change currently cause floods to be up to three times more likely, and 15% more intense3.
Flooding poses not only risks to human lives but also to property and infrastructure. According to the National Weather Service, flooding has cost Americans an average of $7.96 billion in damages per year from 1985 to 20144.
Essentially, anything that comes in contact with floodwater has the potential to be damaged or destroyed. In addition to valuable furniture, this includes electrical systems, heating and cooling systems, and gas systems, all of which may be difficult to restore.
Floods also have a risk of bringing significant health risks to the places that are affected by them. For example, floodwater may contain chemicals and pollutants from soil and damaged structures, which can turn flooded homes into breeding grounds for various diseases and illnesses5.
The risk of flooding is increased if the surrounding environment is not built for draining away excess water from heavy downpours etc. With rapid urbanisation, it becomes essential to build buffer zones capable of quickly absorbing and slowly releasing large quantities of water
Fortunately, there are a number of things that city planners can work with to help communities to stay above water:
- Monitoring of rainfall and flooding
- Identifying and communicating flood risks
- Improving water drainage from streets and roads
- Investing in flood resilient landscapes and infrastructure
The effects of heavy downpours can be minimised with stone wool products as they are able to quickly absorb excess water, and slowly release it into underground basins or sewers.
At the end of the day, it is important to remember that floods pose a dangerous threat to both our lives and our homes. As a society today, we have the tools to prepare ourselves and manage the risks, instead of simply reacting when disaster strikes. Let us make sure to do so.
1. Easterling, D.R., K.E. Kunkel, J.R. Arnold, T. Knutson, A.N. LeGrande, L.R. Leung, R.S. Vose, D.E. Waliser, and M.F. Wehner. 2017. “Precipitation change in the United States. InClimate science special report: Fourth national climate assessment, volume 1”, fourth edition, edited by D.J. Wuebbles, D.W. Fahey, K.A. Hibbard, D.J. Dokken, B.C. Stewart, and T.K. Maycock. Washington, DC: US Global Change Research Program, 207–230. doi:10.7930/J0H993CC.
2. Wehner, M.F., J.R. Arnold, T. Knutson, K.E. Kunkel, and A.N. LeGrande. 2017. Droughts, floods, and wildfires. In “Climate science special report: Fourth national climate assessment, volume 1”, fourth edition, edited by D.J. Wuebbles, D.W. Fahey, K.A. Hibbard, D.J. Dokken, B.C. Stewart, and T.K. Maycock. Washington, DC: US Global Change Research Program, 231–256. doi:10.7930/J0CJ8BNN.
3. van Oldenborgh, G.J., K. van der Wiel, A. Sebastian, R. Singh, J. Arrighi, F. Otto, K. Haustein, S. Li, G. Vecchi, and H. Cullen. 2017. Attribution of extreme rainfall from Hurricane Harvey, August 2017. “Environmental Research Letters” 12(12):1–11. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/aa9ef2.
4. NOAA National Weather Service, 2016.
5. Perera, E.M., T. Sanford, and R. Cleetus. 2012. “Climate change and your health—After the storm: The hidden health risks of flooding in a warming world”. Cambridge, MA: Union of Concerned Scientists. Online at