Detroit News Opinion: Wave of flooding a wake-up call, says Assoc. Prof. Andrew Gronewold

Allen Park on Outer Drive near Southfield Freeway
Originally published: 
May, 2019

Andrew D. Gronewold

Catastrophic flooding is ravaging coastal and inland communities across the Central Midwestern United States, including Michigan. Images of communities coming together to build barriers using sand bags and putting the pieces back together after experiencing damaging floods are sweeping across the news.

We’ve seen an increase in the frequency and intensity of severe storms, and this trend will likely continue as the effects of climate change become more pronounced. These events serve as warnings that we must better prepare and plan for the future ahead.

The governor of Michigan has already declared a state of emergency for southeastern Michigan in response to the early onset of high-water levels, and in anticipation of further and more widespread flooding across the region.

Most recently, the United States Army Corps of Engineers released an official forecast confirming that very high-water levels are expected across all of the Great Lakes, with record-high levels expected across Lakes Superior, St. Clair, and Erie.

The city of Montreal recently issued a state of emergency as well, and they aren’t alone in grappling with these challenges. Water levels in Davenport, Iowa, are higher than they’ve been in over 150 years.Elsewhere along the Mississippi River, waters are approaching or surpassing record levels.

As we look ahead, it is important for residents of Michigan and the United States to have the foundational resources and knowledge to anticipate and respond to these events. It is even more critical that people around the world heed the warning of changes in the distribution of water at a global scale.

Projected increases in droughts, severe storms, and flooding events, for example, have numerous ill effects, including an amplified risk of erosion, sewage overflow, interference with transportation, and flood damage. Increased storm severity may also have a negative economic impact due to resulting damages and increased costs of preparation, clean up, and business disruption.

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