Small boat with flood survivors. Source: National Weather Service
Source: National Weather Service

Isn't there any GOOD news?

Yes, there is! Scientific and technological advantages have boosted our ability to predict disasters (and prepare for them), to control the flow of water, and to lessen the spread of flood-related disease.


Radar, satellite imagery, and computer modeling have greatly improved weather forecasting and early-warning systems, giving people time to evacuate and prepare before waters rise. Scientists in computer labs simulate what might happen in the future when climate conditions change. They recently predicted that central and northern Europe are five times more likely to suffer very wet winters during this century. Asia's "monsoon region" could have a fivefold increase in the amount of summer rainfall.

click to enlarge image Map of flooding in Germany. Source: NOAA
Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


Dikes, dams, and levees keep rising waters within their banks, providing protection and limiting damage. Channels and storage reservoirs provide safe places for excess water to go. Learn more about dams and water control.


Along hillsides, loss of trees and shrubs (from logging or being cleared for farmland) can cause landslides, which leave areas vulnerable to hurricanes. Adding plants to bare hillsides holds soil in place and slows water movement—thereby reducing flood damage.


Better zoning reduces risk by preventing construction in hazardous places such as floodplains. New building codes can require stronger houses and other buildings in locations prone to floods and other disasters.


Water treatment facilities, sanitation systems, and better-equipped hospitals help control the spread of diseases. But not all communities have these resources in place. Even when they do, residents still suffer economic losses from floods.


Additional information