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Lessons from Louisiana
Craig E. Colton, professor of Geography at the Louisiana State University, pens an article for The Conversation about recent floods in Louisiana. After listing off the damage wreaked by historic rainfall totals, Colton compares and contrasts with an obvious predecessor:
Reports of flooding in Louisiana may conjure up images of Hurricane Katrina, but these rivers are completely separated from the Mississippi River, and these floods posed no threat to New Orleans. Nonetheless, based on my experience studying risk and resilience in this region, I see parallels between the damage of current flooding and the damage caused by Katrina.
According to Colton, human decisions of planning and permitting exacerbated the consequences of this weather event. These areas "had experienced repeat floods, and agencies had failed to complete projects designed to mitigate flood damage before the storms hit."
According to Colton, the Florida Parishes region is a natural laboratory for flood studies. Despite a long track record of flooding, and planning efforts meant to prepare for more, but Colton says that suburban sprawl has nonetheless been allowed to spill onto the floodplain.
While Colton's concern is planning and preparation, a separate Associated Press article notes scathing reviews for the performance of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the region. U.S. Rep. John Mica (R-FL), who chairs a subcommittee with jurisdiction over FEMA, called the response "pitiful." Mica argues that FEMA needs more flexibility in its programs.