National Flood Awareness Week Brings New Attention to Natural Alternatives

Today kicks off National Flood Safety Awareness Week, and as I grabbed my umbrella for the fourth day in a row, I couldn’t help but think that mother nature was really trying to hammer this point home. Spring not only means more hours of sunlight and new buds on the trees. It also means the snow we have accumulated over the winter months will be melting and replenishing our streams and rivers. Spring rains cause our rivers to swell even more.

News stories across the country tell of families forced to abandon their homes and communities that spend days filling and placing sand bags as a last line of defense. For many decades communities have turned to structural flood control, like dams and levees, in an attempt to contain the water and the threat. Despite these efforts, we continue to see stories of communities in danger, and the nation’s annual flood damages have continued to grow, now exceeding $6 billion a year.

Despite these tales of doom and gloom, there is hope. Community leaders around the country are beginning to look to 21st century flood protection solutions that work with nature, not against it. Dams are being removed and levees are being set back in an effort to open up the floodplain and give our rivers the room they need to spread out, storing and slowly releasing floodwaters after peak flooding has passed.

Catch a sneak peak of American Rivers’ new video about how communities used these restoration techniques to alleviate some of their flooding problems, and witness the new lease on life these communities and their rivers now have.