Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Record flood, levee breach lead to talk of relocating river towns and expanding flood plain

Will the record or near-record flooding on the Mississippi River and its tributaries lead to a fundamental change in river management, and relocation of some towns along the river? Yes, if some experts have their way. (NASA photo: Cairo, Ill., at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio; the levee in Missouri was breached to eliminate flood risk to Cairo and other towns)

"Proponents of such a potentially vast undertaking say homeowners and businesses normally resistant to government buyout offers have suddenly become far more receptive, as they begin to assess the damages wrought to their properties," Paul Quinlan of Environment & Energy News reports, quoting Nicholas Pinter, professor of geology and environmental resources and policy at Southern Illinois University: "The main difference is we're going into communities that are still wet. We've heard a lot of enthusiasm for taking opportunities now to move out of the flood plain."

Pinter said Federal Emergency Management Agency representatives spoke with Illinois state officials and other experts in a conference call yesterday to discuss the possibility of buyouts: "They've said that if all the loose ends can be pulled together, they will devote considerable resources and manpower. There are in-state and federal resources waiting to make this happen." (Read more, subscription required)

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