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National Report (David Letterman Style) – The Growing Threat of Urban Flooding: A National Challenge

Flooding is a problem in our region and Allegheny County. Check out my previous blog post to get a sense for how much it’s a problem.

But it’s a national problem. Make no mistake about it, most of the nation has a flooding illness. Our region is by no means alone in combating its flooding struggles.

For example, check out this national report from Texas A&M and the University of Maryland:

Wait a second, just one moment. Before I continue with the report, I’d like to pause and take this moment to comment on “blue coat kid” aka real-life Dennis the Menace on his bike above. In case you forgot, here’s a friendly reminder by my favorite twitter feed Allegheny County:

Although not specifically mentioned, this tweet also applies to adolescent children driving a bicycle. Yes, even when under “adult supervision.” That’s right, I’m talking about you “red coat basketball shorts” guy standing in ankle deep water watching your child drown. Dear lord, get your freakin’ kid inside and out of torrential flood waters! Don’t just stand there! Your child looks like he’s literally stuck in the middle of a flood. I know you are probably fed up with him playing that dang Fortnight game for endless hours, but now is NOT the time to get his “butt outside” during a flood!

Alright now that I’ve addressed that, let’s move on to the report itself. Here’s the link if you care to read the report. But as promised, I’m going to summarize this bad-boy (aka blue coat kid) here on the blog.

The report has ten main conclusions, which are summarized below in my own words with added commentary from myself, David Letterman, and Paul Shaffer in italics. I should note that the actual authors of the report didn’t rank the ten conclusions in terms of importance. But I’m going to present them in the style of David Letterman’s top ten list for no good reason other than I really like David Letterman.

So here we go…

For tonight’s Top Ten list we have “Conclusions from the national flooding report: The Growing Threat of Urban Flooding : A National Challenge

At Conclusion Number 10: Data on flooding is not easily available.

Tom Batroney: Could not agree more, we need to record and document our flooding problems every time they occur which is why I created this blog and the flooding archive.

Conclusion Number 9: Homeowners are ill equipped to protect themselves from flooding and many lack resources to do so.

Conclusion Number 8: Government has done a poor job educating the public on flood prone areas, keeping flood maps up to date, and officials generally don’t like to talk about it.

David Letterman: Hey Paul, number 8 reminds me of that time you and I went on that week long bender in Vegas. I’d really prefer not to ever talk about that as well.

Number 7: There are economic and social inequities with flooding and that are not well understood. Low-income populations are particularly vulnerable.

Number 6: There is no government agency at the federal level charged with oversight of urban flood reduction activities.

Number 5: The condition of drainage systems across the nation are in poor condition and are in need of support.

David Letterman: Yikes, pretty sure there’s a prostate exam joke in there somewhere. (David pulls at shirt collar uncomfortably, takes a sip from his mug reluctantly, hinting that it’s David with the prostate problem)

Number 4: No one wants to take responsibility for flooding and there is a lack of coordination to address political challenges.

David Letterman (dripping with sarcasm): You know, Paul, call me crazy but I just have a really really really good feeling lately about Congress and their ability to come together and overcome our political challenges. What do you think? Don’t you think so? (long awkward pause – camera pans to Paul shaking his head in disbelief)

Tom Batroney: BULLSEYE NUMBER 4. See this blog’s very first post.

Number 3: Solutions are best developed at the local level. While federal support is needed, leaders at the local level must take ownership.

Tom Batroney: Again, see this blog’s very first post.

Number 2: Storms are becoming stronger and more frequent due to climate change. The flooding problem is only going to get worse if we don’t do something.

David Letterman (talking purposely aloof): Paul, have you heard about this so-called “Climate Change” (David with hand air quotes) issue? Craziest thing I tell you. Apparently there are all these science experts out there, something like 99.999% of them, that say us humans are destroying our planet with the burning of fossil fuels and the earth is getting warmer because of it.

Paul Shaffer: David, what’s the climate like living under your rock?

And tonight’s number 1 conclusion……..

Number 1: Urban flooding is a growing source of economic loss, social disruption, and inequality to our country. The growth in urban flooding is being caused by:

  • extensive suburban development,
  • aging infrastructure,
  • lack of maintenance of our drainage systems,
  • climate change, and
  • a lack of coordination at the local level.

Tom Batroney: The last point in my opinion is the single most important factor. If we don’t start to coordinate at the local level within Allegheny County, it will be very difficult, if not impossible to address our flooding problems. We must come together if we are going to have a chance.

Cue Paul Shaffer and his band.

Cut to commercial.

Thanks for reading!

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