From Drought to Deluge: American Rivers responds to extreme Southeast weather

September 23rd, 2009

<P><SPAN lang=EN>Jenny Hoffner, Water Supply Program Director (Atlanta, GA), 404-373-3602 <BR>Gerrit Jobsis, Southeast Regional Director (Columbia, SC), 803-771-7114 <BR>Amy Kober, Communications director, 206-898-3864</P></SPAN>

Atlanta Floodwaters overwhelmed parts of the Southeast this week, killing eight people and destroying property throughout the region. The floods came as the region was getting over a historic two-year drought. American Rivers urged officials to act swiftly to help the flood victims and released a set of broad recommendations to help protect communities from future floods and increasingly volatile weather.

“Our hearts go out to the families and communities of the Southeast who have lost loved ones and have seen their homes damaged or destroyed by floodwaters,” said Rebecca Wodder, president of American Rivers.

“First the drought, now the deluge. Unfortunately, this kind of extreme weather is becoming more and more common, and communities need new 21st century solutions to protect public health and safety,” added Wodder.

In a new report titled “Natural Security: how sustainable water strategies are preparing communities for a changing climate,” American Rivers outlines how innovative “green infrastructure” solutions can help communities get ready for more frequent and intense floods and droughts, and protect clean water, health, and public safety. The three overarching recommendations in “Natural Security” are:

  1. Protect healthy landscapes, like forests and small streams, that naturally filter and maintain clean water supplies and absorb floodwaters.
  2. Restore degraded landscapes like floodplains and wetlands so they can better store flood waters and replenish streams and aquifers during times of drought.
  3. Repair water systems in urban settings relying on green approaches to capture and use water more wisely, and prevent stormwater and sewage pollution.

The report highlights communities like Boston, MA, that protected wetlands along the Charles River and as a result saves $40 million in flood damage every year. Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin moved 49 homes and businesses out of the floodplain to higher ground, and now enjoys better protection from floods. On the water-saving front, the report spotlights how Clayton County, GA beat the drought with an innovative water recycling program.

“When dealing with the crisis of a flood or drought, officials are faced with the question of how to prevent such a disaster in the future. Our hope is that decision makers will choose 21st century solutions like floodplain restoration and water efficiency that are more cost-effective, flexible and reliable, and deliver multiple benefits to communities in the long run,” said Wodder.

“While we can’t prevent floods, we can prevent a lot of future damage and devastation if we start making the right decisions today,” said Wodder.

To view the Natural Security report, visit

To learn about American Rivers’ flood protection efforts, visit


About American Rivers

About American Rivers

American Rivers protects wild rivers, restores damaged rivers, and conserves clean water for people and nature. Since 1973, American Rivers has protected and restored more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and the annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers® campaign. Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 200,000 members, supporters, and volunteers.

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