The Louisiana Flood: Understanding the “Quiet Disaster”

KatrinaFloodingAmidst the Olympic and election coverage, a portion of America is quietly experiencing one of the worst natural disasters since Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast in 2012. Flooding, while not as provocative in the news as hurricanes and earthquakes, can cause just as much damage and loss of life. In southern Louisiana, over 20 parishes have been declared disaster areas by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and are eligible for federal disaster relief. During these emergency situations, it is necessary to understand the cause and effects to help mitigate future hazards.

Flooding is the most common hazard in the United States. A quick exploration of the state profiles from the Congressional Research Service displays that the majority of federal funds go to areas affected by flooding. The situation in southern Louisiana has developed from a collection of extreme weather patterns that have converged. Over the previous week, the water vapor over this area hit record levels. This condition, combined with the slow moving storm helped in wringing the moisture out of the atmosphere “like a sponge”. The results have led to downpours of up to a foot of rain within an hour resulting in flash floods, deaths, and significant property damage.

The Homeland Security Digital Library (HSDL) provides a wide assortment of information on floods. Particularly, our recently added Lessons Learned Information Sharing (LLIS) collection has a ton of information on Best Practices, Innovative approaches, and Community Resilience from flood experiences across the country. Outside the HSDL, there are an assortment of websites provided by the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, the Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Information, the White House, and Floodlist to better understand the circumstances on the ground.(some material may require HSDL login)