The Naval Postgraduate School & The U.S. Department of Homeland Security

New Report Says United States is Ill-Prepared for Natural Disasters

A new report by the American Security Project has found that the United States is ill-prepared to deal with natural disasters, especially as they relate to coastal flooding. The report, called "Climate Change: Coastal Flood Threat", uses the Netherland's flood management plans, which are cited as some of the most comprehensive in the world, as a baseline for preparing for flood disasters.

According to the report, "American flood control measures are inadequate to deal with this rising threat. Flood management is not harmonized and is underfunded. The National Committee on Levee Safety reported disturbing findings on shortcomings in the protection levels of levees, concluding that many communities live 'at an unacceptably high risk.'"

The risk of coastal flooding is an increasing one. As global temperatures rise, catastrophic storms have caused intense flooding and destruction. Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Katrina are examples of severe storms that have caused extreme damage, both in property damage and loss of life.

One important factor discussed in the report is the U.S.'s lack of comprehensive levee management. The U.S. does not have a comprehensive approach, instead relying on states to maintain levees and pass local regulations, many of which are not monitored or tracked by the federal government. The Netherlands, on the other hand, has flooding safety measures with strict requirements depending on terrain and levee location. Dutch levees must also be able to withstand certain floods based on higher damage and/or loss potential in that location.

Overall, the U.S. system relies on disaster relief rather than investment in an infrastructure that would support flood control initiatives.