After the Flood, the Hard Work Begins

Fighting a flood—most any disaster for that matter—is the easy part.  You can make contingency plans, stage supplies, train volunteers.  It’s easy to get people excited about saving lives.

After the flood is when the hard work begins.  It’s clean up time, mop up time, time to do the dishes and everybody’s out in the living room watching football while you’re stuck alone in the kitchen.

It’s clean up time in the Red River Valley.  Fortunately, it looks like there’s still a few folks left in the kitchen.  On 5 May, representatives from Minnesota and North Dakota met in Washington, DC, to talk over planned and future flood management measures.  The Forum reports:

The joint meeting took place in the appropriations room because Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., chairs the appropriations subcommittee that funds the Army Corps of Engineers. The federal government will fund 65 percent of corps flood protection projects, but the plans must come from local leaders, Dorgan said.

“This is a bottoms-up process,” he said, calling Tuesday’s meeting “historic” and saying it was designed to build consensus toward a plan.

Yeah, the hard part.  The traditional way of dealing with hazards is control.  We built ‘flood control’ projects—dams, levees, resevoirs.  Thing is, Mother Nature laughs at ‘control’.  Plus there’s the whole ‘unintended consequences’ thing.  We drain this, it causes more flooding there, no matter what the engineers’ computer models say.

MPR interviewed MN Senator Klobuchar if you’re interested:


Anyway, my point if there is one: Control is out, management is in.  Simpler is better;  however, landscape-scale hazards have to be managed on a landscape scale.  The Forum’s Flood Blog relates this from the D.C. meeting:

It’s going to take more than building higher dikes and diversions to solve the Red River Valley’s flooding problems, officials said during today’s joint Minnesota-North Dakota flood protection meeting in Washington, D.C.
Water retention is a key component of the solution, they said.
Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said water storage became a central issue up and down the valley during this spring’s flooding.
“I think we’ll miss the boat if we don’t find a way to incorporate these projects into the larger work that the (Army Corps of Engineers) is doing,” he said.
“I really think without it, we’re going to end up building a lot more diking than we really need, and it’s going to take a lot longer than it should take,” he added.



This entry was posted in Policy and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.