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The 2021 hurricane season is now underway, bringing with it the threat of flooding. storm surge and other severe weather conditions.
While the U.S. has yet to feel the full impact of a hurricane this year, tropical storms have already battered coastal states.
In June, 14 people were killed in Alabama as Claudette moved over the Southeast and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Thursday that Tropical Storm Elsa had formed over the tropical Atlantic and is expected to cause heavy rains that could lead to isolated flash flooding and mudslides in the Caribbean.
The agency reported in May that America is likely to be hit with another “above-normal” year, with 13 to 20 total named storms.
The agency predicted that six to 10 of those storms were likely to become hurricanes, with wind speeds of 74 mph or higher.
Marina Kingsmill and her brother Raylan play in the flooded street in front of their home after Tropical Storm Claudette passed through in Slidell, La., Saturday, June 19, 2021. The National Hurricane Center declared Claudette organized enough to qualify as a named storm early Saturday, well after the storm’s center of circulation had come ashore southwest of New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
A June report from real estate analytics firm CoreLogic Inc. said hurricanes are expected to threaten more than 32 million homes across the coastal U.S., noting that flood insurance is not “uniformly purchased” and that up to 70% of damages from flood to homes is uninsured.
More recently, Michigan’s Detroit area was flooded following a weekend deluge double the typical amount of rain for the month.
Detroit’s Democratic Mayor Mike Duggan said his city had seen the most rain in one day in 80 years, noting that its stormwater system “was built for the climate of the 20th century and not the climate of the 21st century.”
Thousands were affected and liberal Gov. Gretchen Whitmer also pinned the event on “old infrastructure combined with climate change.”
The issue of climate change has been brought into the spotlight during the Biden presidency, and major concerns for many – especially in states threatened by hurricanes – are sea level rise, sinking land and erosion.
Michigan State Police examine a vehicles sitting in floodwaters on I-94 after a flood overwhelmed the interstate this past Friday June 25, 2021, the floodwaters have yet to subside on Monday, June 28 2021 in Detroit, Mich. (Nicole Hester/The Grand Rapids Press via AP)
As storms and weather become more severe due to human-caused climate change, these threats are expected to increase in strength and number.
Living in coastal areas or regions subject to flooding comes with challenges that linger long after the storm has passed.
To prepare for flooding, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) advises that residents know the types of flood risks in their area; sign up for a community warning system and other emergency alerts; purchase or renew a flood insurance policy; keep important documents in a waterproof container and create digital copies; move valuables to higher levels; declutter drains and gutters, and install valves.
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In addition, the agency recommends making a plan for pets and family, including practicing evacuation routes, reviewing shelter plans and gathering enough supplies and food to last for a few days.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also advises getting a COVID-19 vaccine in the event of a hurricane in addition to following emergency evacuation orders, protecting older adults and preparing an emergency “go kit.”
According to the National Weather Service (NWS), there have been 23 flood fatalities in 2021.
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