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Stop Re-Building Homes in the Floodplains


It is that time of year again when sudden downpours of rain cause flash floods throughout the floodplains in the Midwest.

This periodic, and sometimes annual, flooding destroys hundreds of homes and even towns in the floodplains almost every year. Sometimes a lot more than just a few hundred, especially this year when the Midwest is experiencing the worse flooding since probably a hundred years.


As a result, I would like discourage people from re-building their homes and towns in these floodplains. But first, we need to understand why people build their homes and towns in floodplains. The four basic reasons that I found are:
  1. Because floods increase the nutrients in the soil, the floodplains experience a natural surge of plant growth that is ideal for agriculture. Thus, floodplains are the most naturally fertile lands for farming.
  2. Inexpensive and easy availability of water for farming.
  3. Rivers are cheap sources of transportation, again ideal for farming.
  4. Floodplains are typical very flat pieces of land, and they are much easier to develop and build on than uneven surfaces.

Notice that the first three out of four reasons for building in floodplains are for farming. I fully understand the benefits of building farms in these high risk areas, yet there are only two reasons to build homes and towns in these areas too. And those reasons would be the convenience and security with living near the farms.

A think it is a mild inconvenience to build new towns and homes as far as possible from rivers and possibly out of the floodplains. Otherwise, build houses and cities only on high ground, such as on hills or artificial mounds. Do not count on dams and levees (i.e. the government) to protect private property or insurances to help much.

Now that so many homes and towns have been destroyed in this year’s great flood, please carefully consider where to rebuild.

by Phil for Humanity
on 08/23/2007

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