Alignment of public agencies across California is essential if the state and its officials are to chart a path toward success in managing California flood risks.
Perhaps more than at any time in the state’s history, flood management is at a crucial junction. Continuing down the pathway of fragmentation means poor planning, undependable funding and a narrow-minded approach to solving flood issues. Moving forward with an Integrated Water Management (IWM) plan, on the other hand, could mean more stability in funding, better public safety and other significant benefits.
Failing to make changes now could mean future flooding that’s catastrophic in nature and puts the lives and properties of millions at risk while risking environmental resources too. Unless you’ve seen the severe impact on homes, businesses and other property that can be caused by the effects of flood waters, it’s often hard to understand just how important the issue of flooding is for our state.
A complete and integrated water management program involves a four-pronged approach to flood management that includes:
- Tools. With better information and understanding of the problems related to flood management, public safety is enhanced and the other intended benefits of IWM are gained as well. Tools that everyone can use while working together include flood risk assessments. Short-term solutions need to be implemented as soon as possible while long-term actions are determined and pursued.
- Plans. It makes sense to work within an IWM approach when making flood management solutions from this point forward. This includes regional planning, which must be done as part of statewide policy and investment priority planning. With cooperation in planning, it may be possible to overcome barriers, reduce the administrative and regulatory burdens associated with operating, maintaining and improving flood benefits and develop truly integrated solutions with multiple benefits to the citizens of California and the environment.
- Actions. Striving for better alignment of flood management policies can make actions more efficient and effective. An IWM program can establish sensible financial priorities that will lead to better outcomes, better protection of citizens and better protection of property from flooding. With a fragmented approach, overlap of efforts creates waste. And some areas go completely unprotected. It seems we should be able to do better than that.
- Results. A document entitled California’s Flood Future outlines ways that measurable results related to managing flood risks can be established. These results can include:
- reduced risks and consequences associated with flooding
- better-informed decisions related to flood risk at the governmental, business and personal level
- protection of the ecosystem and preservation of the function of floodplains
- more benefits from protected funded by state and federal money
- better flood management control and policies
- setting of statewide flood management investment priority
- significant and stable funding for flood management projects
- and more.
It’s hard to imagine opposition to the four points laid out above, which seem like a commonsense approach to dealing with the issue of flooding in California.
As a San Diego restoration company, there’s little we at Orange Restoration can do about the causes of flooding or their control, but we do see the impact of flooding on people’s lives and businesses first hand.
The future of California is in the hands of elected officials, stakeholders of all kinds and the many agencies at all levels of government who must work together to prevent flooding and keep people out of its way whenever possible.
When we take care of people, our environment, our industries and everything else in our state, we’re doing what we can for a solid and economically stable future.
For help with flood damage in Southern California, call us at (619) 376-6838.
Wouldn’t it be great if a flood management program could be developed that solves many of California’s flooding issues while also dealing with water supply concerns and ecological issues? In the process of solving the flooding crisis, other situations could be respected and improved.
California’s Department of Water Resources is working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build a program of what they call IWM – or Integrated Water Management. The idea is to create flood management programs with multiple benefits in mind.
With IWM, flood management can be handled along with water supply management and actions to protect and develop the ecosystem so that there are benefits on all these issues, not just on flooding.
For that to happen, governmental leaders must work with people from the private sector and across all agencies, integrating experts from economics, engineering and the environmental sciences as well as public policy and public information voices. When fully implemented, IWM will promote flexibility in the system and resiliency that could accommodate changing conditions and issues like ecosystem needs, climate change, drought or flood events, regional preferences and financing capabilities.
Better Safety Is The Result
What difference would an integrated approach make? IWM provides better results for everyone – especially the people of California, who should be the ultimate recipients of any flood management actions. IWM results in better public safety, greater environmental stewardship and helps ensure the stability of the statewide economy, which could be placed in jeopardy by a devastating flood event in certain regions of the state.
Think of IWM as a holistic approach to solving many California needs at once, just as holistic medicine concerns itself with the whole body at once.
Long-Term Cooperation Is Necessary
It’s important to understand that the IWM approach to flood management doesn’t involve a single meeting or series of collaborations. For this approach to work to reduce flood risk and meet the other goals involved in this integrated approach, the creators of this approach have determined that a never-before-seen level of cooperation and alignment between public agencies, landowners, interest-based groups, tribal entities and all other stakeholders is required.
And the collaboration must be at all levels, including in information gathering, policy-making, planning, establishment of regulations and investment. Currently, some cooperation exists, but it isn’t enough considering how important this issue is for the future of the state.
When a wide approach is taken, there may be financial benefits in both the short and long term as well. Working together may open up funding sources that were not available for use in flood management before. For achieving the flood management goals that are necessary for success, such an approach is important since current funding at most levels is inadequate at best.
At Orange Restoration, we’re in the flood damage repair and water damage restoration business, but we don’t want to see properties damaged unnecessarily when the damage could have been prevented by a smarter approach to flood management.
We’re a California company with a stake in what happens to our state over the long term. Working together, we believe it’s possible to solve longstanding problems in innovative new ways that benefit everyone with minimal negative impacts on anyone.
When emergency restoration is necessary – and it always will be – we’ll be there for you. But we genuinely hope that we never have to come help you clean up from a devastating flood event – especially one that could have been prevented by the establishment of the IWM plan and other initiatives that benefit the future of California as well as everyone and everything in it.
We can be reached 24/7 at (619) 376-6838.
It has been announced by President Obama that his government are now officially considering the December floods that occurred in the state of Washington a natural disaster, making them now applicable for federal disaster aid to support the clean up and restoration process there.
The severe weather conditions over the last few weeks of 2015 created flooding on an unprecedented scale, destroying homes, businesses, and livelihoods, and forcing many people and families to abandon their homes for fear of being cut off completely. The evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people meant that many safety stations had to be set up in nearby schools and hospitals, providing safety for those fleeing the waters. It is believed that ten counties at least will be accessing the financial aid to help their local communities.
As well as flooding, the areas of Oregon and Washington have suffered from landslides and tornadoes which have cut off many people from support and help, and forcing emergencies services to risk dangerous rescues in order to prevent further harm. It is believed at this time that two people were killed in Oregon. Much of the rescue work and repairs that now need to be carried out will be very expensive, especially as much of the debris that has been deposited in areas will have to be removed before any hope of repairing the damage can be realised.
Governor Jay Inslee of Washington has announced a state of emergency, following what he described in his own words as ‘days of hazardous weather with landslides closing major highways, high winds knocking out power to thousands, and rainfall causing wide-spread flooding of roadways, homes and property’. It is believed that funds will be able to start helping people in the affected areas very soon.
The increase in severe weather that we have experienced over the last few months starting with the tornadoes on Groundhog Day mean that there are increasing concerns that flash flooding and landslides will start to become the norm over in the eastern parts of the country.
A large number of tornado reports have come over in the last few days, and almost all of them have originated from the same supercell thunderstorm over a period of two to three hours over from the northwest of Alabama. At this point, the exact number of tornadoes has not been confirmed, but the sheer number of them have overwhelmed quite a few people who have not seen such drastic weather patterns in a long time. One of the most serious ones occurred in the northern side of McMullen in Alabama, destroying thirteen homes completely and leaving a huge amount of damage and destruction in its wake.
It is thought by some experts that the number of tornadoes within this group of the last few days could even exceed twelve, a huge number for such a small area. There have been so many that some weather experts are calling it a ‘wedge’, which is a specialist meteorologist term for a very wide tornado that can be experienced as several tornadoes by different areas.
A number of reports have started to come in of the damage that those tornadoes have wreaked on the local populations, with many more expected to come in once the flash flooding that is being warned starts to occur. For example, a church and several barns have suffered from structural damage in Collinsville in Mississippi, and the same tornado that caused that damage is also being named as responsible for bringing trees down, damaging homes, and even destroying power poles leaving many without electricity in the local area.
Some areas are already experiencing the flash flooding that many are considering to be inevitable, such as in the southern Appalachians. For example, Asheville in North Carolina have several streets that have had to be closed because they have been flooded too badly, and in some areas some people had to be rescued from their homes because they become completely cut off. The rescue efforts are continuously being hampered by the fact that many roads are being closed or at least partially impassable because of the flash flooding. Many people who have been evacuated from their homes have found it difficult to reach their evacuation safe points due to the flooding.
The Storm Prediction Center has issued warnings for the next few days, leading many people to fear that the worst is not yet over. For those who have already suffered a huge amount, it is a frightening thought that their homes and families may continue to be in danger, and for those who had hoped that they had avoided any damage, they will have to continue waiting to see whether or not they are going to be able to weather the storm. In previous cases like this, Taylor Trogdon, National Weather Service meteorologist, has discovered that after the Storm Prediction Center has issued similar warnings in the past, there have followed a series of tornadoes that either come individually or in swarms.
More warnings of flash floods are being given to the east as the consequences of the last few days worth of weather start to make their way downstream. There are also fears that flash flooding could continue to hamper the rescue efforts of those trying to reach those who are vulnerable in the local area.
Forced evacuation and closure were the consequences of some extreme flooding in Yakima recently, as businesses were faced with no choice but to close up thanks to the water damage.
The water started slowly, according to most business owners, but by 5:30 pm yesterday it started to come in fast, leaving some business owners no choice but to close up shop due to safety concerns. In many cases, however, the flood water did not actually make it into the businesses themselves, leaving many of their owners relieved. “We were fortunate that water didn’t come into the building,” said Kye Kim, the owner of New York Teriyaki. “It filled up our crawl space and just barely came in the front door, but we were able to sand bag and keep water form coming in.”
Other people were not so lucky. The flood waters that came in can do a huge amount of damage in a very short about of time, and many people have already started to discuss the length of time and cost that it will take in order to repair the flood damage and get their businesses open once more. Kye Kim, thankfully, has the support of his family and of his church. Many of its members have been helping him out with the clean up operation, but Kye Kim has already assessed potential damage to his freezer and even potentially his cooler.
Although some believe that it would have been more beneficial for officials to have responded more quickly, many of the business are now already open, and it is hoped that it will not take Kye Kim to do the same – especially as the closure and water damage combined is estimated by experts to have cost him around $3000.
California Grill is a popular hang out and eatery for many of the local people in the area, who enjoy the delicious food and welcoming atmosphere. Recently, however, residents have had to forego their favourite meals due to water damage and flooding caused by the most unlikely of sources.
Jennifer Winsor, the manager at California Grill, had no idea that there was even a problem at the Grill until she was contacted at home by the local firefighting team, who informed her that one of the sprinklers in the ceiling had become frozen. This had then broken one of the pipes, and eventually flooded the entire building with water. The firefighters had discovered the basement three inches deep in water. The damage that was caused has taken over $200,000 to repair, and the process is not completely over yet.
One of the most heartbreaking aspects of this story is that the frozen pipe itself should never have happened – it was usually heated, ensuring that it could stay nice and warm without freezing and causing so much damage. In fact, in the last decade of operating amongst us, this is the first time that it has ever happened, and the long term repairs are only just beginning. Several pieces of kitchen equipment, none of them cheap, have also got to be replaced.
“There’s going to be, you know, a lot of painting, refinishing, flooring, a lot of that is still undecided at this stage,” said Jennifer Winsor. Of course, as well as decoration, it is vital to the wellbeing of the California Grill that they work hard to ensure that nothing like this happens again, so they can be confident in the knowledge that they will never receive a phone call like that from their local firefighters again.
Residents of Ventura were saddened to discover that the high surf and rough waves of the last few hours have damaged Ventura Pier, leading it to be closed completely as the waves continued to pound against it – and some are even calling it the ‘largest surf event of the season’.
Unprecedented levels of waves have caused damage to the pier, to the extent that there are now fears that the structure itself may be compromised. Police officers were required to ensure that everyone evacuated the pier when it was realised that it may no longer be as safe as usual, and it was then closed to the public at around seven o’clock in the morning. Aerial views have shown that although the pier has definitely lost some of the wooden posts within its structure, it is still standing.
No one is expecting the pier to be opened while it is in this delicate condition, especially as the waves and the surf are remaining very high. In fact, the ocean has continued to batter nearby homes to the pier that are within reach now of the strong waves, and some of the surf heights that are being recorded are being described as up to fifteen feet high by locals of the area. Everyone is being warned to stay away from the sea, especially as the current state increases the likelihood of rip currents and sneaker waves, both very dangerous phenomena. Those who are inexperienced swimmers have also been advised to stay out of the water.
Experts believe that by Saturday, the surf will decrease to normal levels, but until that time is realised, all residents of Ventura can do is wait and see what sort of state their Pier will be in when it is all over.
The flooding in Missouri has reached levels rarely ever seen before in the area, but scientists and other experts are starting to make statements that suggest that the excess water in the area is not due to natural causes, but in fact the opposite: that it could all be down to the choices and decisions that we as humans are making.
Robert Criss, PhD, is a professor of Earth and Planetary sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, and he has dedicated a huge amount of time into understanding exactly how we as a species have affected the natural weather patterns around us. He has also stated that “People want to blame the rain, but this is mostly us”, describing the Missouri flooding as ‘a manmade disaster’.
The Meramec and Mississippi rivers are the ones that have flooded giving the most damage to the surrounding areas, especially in late December – and experts have said that the three days of continuous rain that preceded it was not the actual source of the flooding. The Washington University has in fact released their own statement, arguing that the flooding is a direct consequence of the development projects that have sprung up all along the Meramec and its other tributaries, which have pushed the water levels up unnaturally. Their studies have shown them that the riparian borders around the rivers were completely destroyed by the developments, preventing any further rain from being absorbed by the rivers.
Things only got worse when Storm Goliath arrived at the end of December 2015, dropped up to ten inches of rain across the local area, and this was what, at first, seemed to create the flooding issues – but further analysis has proven that the rain in fact only increased the watershed by five percent. It was easy for most people to watch the storm come in, and then immediately blame the flooding that followed it on that storm, but the experts have revealed that the reality is a lot more complex than that.
“I think there was significant magnification of the flood levels on the Meramec by recent developments near the river,” Professor Robert Criss said. “Sure it rained a lot, but what happened here cannot be explained by the rainfall alone.” Visiting scholar Mingming Luo of the China University of Geosciences in Wuhan, China, has been watching the water levels for a while to better understand the way that the natural water systems and being affected by human interactions, and has been considering the last few months in the region as though it were a large experiment.
The developments along the Meramec river that Professor Robert Criss has been examining include a three mile long levee that has been created literally parallel and alongside the river itself, filling up the floodplain that was naturally alongside the river which provided a natural release when the river become too flooded. The development has greatly interfered with the natural way that the river tried to relieve any pressure that it was put under, which now means that it only takes a small amount of water for there to be catastrophic effects.
It’s easy, in a way, for people to try to blame the natural weather systems that encounter our local areas, because it then takes away any of the pressure that could be put on us to change as a species. After all, it is only through the developments and the changes in our natural environments that we enact and force on the world around us that we start to realise just how much damage we can create, almost without realising it.
“The heavy rainfall was probably related to El Niño, and possibly intensified by global warming. But new records were set only in areas that have undergone intense development, which is known to magnify floods and shorten their timescales,” continued Professor Robert Criss. His understanding of exactly what happened has started to change the way that we understand developing the local area for progress, when in actuality it can reduce our ability to progress because we will then be in danger of flooding and other natural disasters.
One terrible and catastrophic example of this was the New Year’s flood which followed that large storm that arrived at the end of December 2015. Over seven thousand buildings in the St. Louis area were damaged, requiring repair, forcing people out of their homes, and forcing businesses to close down for repairs. Not one but two interstate highways were closed for almost a week, preventing essential travel that was required in order to repair much of the damage that the local community had suffered. Valley Park and everyone who lived within and around it were forced to be evacuated them, leaving them homeless at just the sort of time when you want to feel safe and secure – and perhaps most dangerous of all, not one but two Metropolitan Sewer District plants were so flooded that they were forced to dump the sewage straight into the water.
More than twenty people lost their lives during this time of flooding and natural disaster, and it created several hundred million dollars worth of repairs. The debris that it left has been estimated at millions of tons, and will require a huge cleanup process in order to return the local area back to normal – and it all can be followed back to a simple development beside a river.