13 Oct
Envisioning Flood-Proof Cities Envisioning Flood-Proof Cities

Envisioning Flood-Proof Cities

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As millions of people struggle to recover from the devastation wreaked by hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, the world has watched in horror as pictures and videos illustrate the damage caused by hurricane-force winds.

But the accompanying foods and storm surges appear to have done significantly more damage. Some areas of Houston received more than 40 inches of rain during Hurricane Harvey. A few areas in Puerto Rico received similar amounts, leaving some saying that flood waters there won't recede or weeks or perhaps months.

Imagine, then, the damage that could be prevented if cities -- many of which consist of endless pavement, leaving room to drain water from only a 10-year weather event, not the 100- or 500-year events recently experienced in the American Southeast -- were entirely food proof. What would that look like?

About a decade ago, the city of Chicago began installing what are known as Green Alleys -- patches of permeable pavement that permit stormwater to drip through and be absorbed by the ground.

“We try to create porosity and permeability so that water can move in the ways that it moves in the hydrological cycle,” a landscape architect tells The Guardian newspaper of London. “It’s very simple, but it’s very difficult for people to grasp, because we’ve not designed like that in a century.”

Areas of New Jersey that were hit by Hurricane Sandy could be better protected by a series of raised berms, allowing outlying wetlands areas to have a chance to soak up storm surges and other moisture before it can reach populated areas.

And a Dutch architectural firm is experimenting in Bangladesh with the idea of Floating Pods, modular structures designed to operate on the water's surface.

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Read 1121 times Last modified on Wednesday, 27 September 2017 07:27
Jim Lillie

Jim began writing for newspapers and designing for publishing companies at a time when both industries were just beginning to make the switch from manual to digital platforms. Jim lives in Boulder, Colorado with his teenage son.

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