Following record-breaking floods that swept through the St. Louis region, communities are cleaning up the damage, rebuilding and tuning in to how these disasters can be prevented.
Three days of pounding rain just after Christmas exposed the problematic nature of changing weather patterns, urban sprawl and new levees. Decades of flood plain development have constricted the rivers to a narrow channel walled off by levees, forcing the water to rise rather than spread out. Meanwhile, major rain events are becoming “flashier,” dumping more water onto an ever-growing area of parking lots and pavement that can’t absorb it.
During a press conference last week, Gov. Jay Nixon said although his current focus is flood recovery, decisions regarding federal buyouts, river and flood plain management and flood mitigation will happen down the road. For now, he said, the cost of flood insurance does a fair job of curbing floodplain development, and doesn’t think a statewide policy against it is necessary.