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Flooding: A National Trend?

As mentioned in the last post, flooding along the Mississippi River continues to be the major domestic news story of the day. Residents of low-lying areas of Memphis have been asked to evacuate, as the river rises to 48 feet, just shy of the record set in the terrible flood of 1927, the most destructive in American history. Workers are building temporary levees throughout Mississippi and Louisiana, where the Mississippi is expected to exceed levels reached in that infamous flood in 1927. Now, the previous study mentioned that flooding in the Upper Mississippi has increased in recent years, but is this true nationwide?

Not surprisingly, the Army Corps of Engineers themselves have been interested in this question. Six years ago, in the Journal of Contemporary Water Research and Education, Lauren Cartwright, a "water economist" with the Corps, wrote a summary of flooding and flooding damage trends in the United States since the 1930s. Cartwright found that not only were severe floods becoming more common in much of the country, but the damage from flooding was also rising, suggesting that attempts to protect against flood damage have not improved much in the intervening decades.

The only parts of the country to see declines in severe flooding were New England and the Pacific Northwest, data points conservative bloggers would probably attribute to "liberal elitism."