25% of All Critical US Infrastructure at Risk of Failure Due to Flooding: New Report

A quarter of all critical American infrastructure is at risk of being shut down by flooding, CNN reports.

About 25% of critical infrastructure, including police and fire stations, hospitals, airports, and wastewater treatment plants, could be rendered inoperable by floods, according to a report released by the nonprofit First Street Foundation.

The report also shows that about 2 million miles of roads, representing nearly a quarter of all roads in the country, could be unusable in a flood.

Some areas in the Gulf Court and Appalachia are especially vulnerable. In certain areas, nearly all properties and infrastructure could be shut down by flooding.

Researchers say the threat will only get worse due to climate change.

 "Even if your home is safe and secure from a specific intensity of flooding, if flooding is becoming more common and destructive in your community, your property value may be threatened too," Hamed Moftakhari, an assistant professor of environmental engineering at the University of Alabama, told CNN.

Louisiana area faces highest risk:

Louisiana faces the highest risk of flooding to infrastructure.

The state is home to six of the top 20 most at-risk counties in the entire country, including New Orleans.

While New Orleans has upgraded its infrastructure since Hurricane Katrina, climate change could form more devastating storms.

"It's going to have to continually be updated as the environment changes in the future," Jeremy Porter, the head of research and development at First Street, told CNN. "The infrastructure that's in place today isn't going to protect New Orleans in five, 10, 15 years. That's only going to get worse as sea level rises, as storms not only become more frequent but become stronger."

In New Orleans and other areas, more than 94% of critical infrastructure could be knocked offline.

Other at-risk areas include coastal parts of Florida and Appalachian regions in West Virginia and Kentucky.

Flooding to intensify:

Flooding is already the most common and most expensive type of disaster in the country.

"Because of the impacts of climate change, there are communities across the US that are going to have tough decisions in the years to come because of sea level rise and intensity of storms," FEMA Deputy Associate Administrator David Maurstad told CNN. "It's not just the coast of Louisiana."

The Biden administration has proposed billions to prevent flooding and restore coastal areas in its infrastructure package.

But experts worry the problem will get worse quickly.

The report estimated that the number of residential properties at risk of flooding will grow from 12.4 million today to 13.6 million by 2051.

The increase is expected mostly along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, as well as parts of the Pacific Northwest.


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