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flooding damage

How to Build Sustainable Communities

flooding damageSustainable facilities, green building and infrastructure can help communities become more flood resilient and save billions of dollars, according to an EPA tool.

The Flood Resilience Checklist offers strategies that communities can consider, such as conserving land in flood-prone areas, directing new development to safer areas, and using green infrastructure approaches, such as installing rain gardens, to manage stormwater.

Climate change will likely cause more powerful storms in many parts of the US, according to EPA administrator Gina McCarthy. “Where and how communities build will have long-term impacts on their flood resilience, and on air and water quality and health and safety,” McCarthy says.

Flood-resilient building also makes better business sense. For example, Colorado’s unprecedented flooding last year hurt businesses in myriad ways, from health risks and environmental damage associated with flooded oil fields to fewer tourists visiting the state. The Weather Channel estimates that damages from the flooding could exceed $1 billion, once the damages to infrastructure, housing and agriculture have been assessed.

The checklist is part of a new report, Planning for Flood Recovery and Long-Term Resilience in Vermont: Smart Growth Approaches for Disaster-Resilient Communities. The report is a product of EPA’s year-long Smart Growth Implementation Assistance project in Vermont where EPA worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and state agencies, including the Agency of Commerce and Community Development, to help communities recover from Tropical Storm Irene.

Although the project focused on Vermont, the checklist in the report can help any community seeking to become more flood resilient, the EPA says.

Photo Credit: flood of 2013 in Linz, Austria via Shutterstock


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