Common sense would lead one to imagine the bulk of Chicago's flood insurance claims would occur in those areas most prone to flooding. But what may seem logical to the average person, or "even the average expert in flooding," is incorrect, says a new report [PDF] authored by Harriet Festing, CNT's water program director. And as Emily Badger explains, impervious surfaces are to blame.
"Chicago – and plenty of other cities just like it – has artificially created flood-prone places simply by paving over the region's natural ability to manage excess water. And, as Festing points out, most people are entirely unaware that the city has done this. In urban areas anywhere, when we focus instead on the risks posed by flood plains, we may be ignoring the even greater threat created by how we've designed cities to crowd out their essential green space," says Badger.