According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States. And the damage is not relegated to certain areas. One-third of flood damage occurs outside of designated floodplains, according to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
Many of our most densely populated areas are in coastal zones, or along water sources prone to flooding. In addition, sea-level rise, aging levees, and a changing climate and increased storms will require that we reevaluate the risk of flooding in many areas and respond accordingly. Natural disaster-related damages totaled more than $26 billion across the U.S. in 2009 alone, and are expected to double every decade. How will we respond? As we reflect on the ten-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in 2015, new technologies hold promise for assessing risk, strengthening levees, and reducing the probability of damage or loss due to flooding.