Floodplain Management: A New Approach for a New Era

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Island Press, Jun 22, 2012 - Architecture - 256 pages
A flooding river is very hard to stop. Many residents of the United States have discovered this the hard way. Right now, over five million Americans hold flood insurance policies from the National Flood Insurance Program, which estimates that flooding causes at least six billion dollars in damages every year. Like rivers after a rainstorm, the financial costs are rising along with the toll on residents. And the worst is probably yet to come. Most scientists believe that global climate change will result in increases in flooding.

The authors of this book present a straightforward argument: the time to stop a flooding rivers is before is before it floods. Floodplain Management outlines a new paradigm for flood management, one that emphasizes cost-effective, long-term success by integrating physical, chemical, and biological systems with our societal capabilities. It describes our present flood management practices, which are often based on dam or levee projects that do not incorporate the latest understandings about river processes. And it suggests that a better solution is to work with the natural tendencies of the river: retreat from the floodplain by preventing future development (and sometimes even removing existing structures); accommodate the effects of floodwaters with building practices; and protect assets with nonstructural measures if possible, and with large structural projects only if absolutely necessary.

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Floods Are Not the Problem
A New Vocabulary
Rivers and Floodplains
Natural Processes Must Drive Solutions
Our Relationship to Rivers
Approaches Structural and Nonstructural
Capabilities and Tools
Strategies Work with Not against Rivers
Choosing the Best Strategy
What Next?
National Flood Insurance Program
Floodplain Designers Tool Kit
Further Reading

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About the author (2012)

Robert Freitag is executive director of the Cascadia Region Earthquake Workgroup and director of the Institute for Hazards Mitigation Planning & Research at the University of Washington. He has recently developed a higher education course in floodplain management for FEMA, based on the principles articulated in this book. Susan Bolton is a professor at the University of Washington in the Department of Forest Resources. Frank Westerlund is the chair of urban design planning at the University of Washington. Julie Clark is a geologist.

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