Extreme weather events have become a part of daily life for many countries across the globe. The low-lying Netherlands, in particular, is seeing an increase in flood activity and costly flood repair to its sensitive network of dike systems. Faced with a dilemma, the nation’s Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment saw two possible solutions – give more room for the river or build higher dikes. It chose the former.
Flood risk assessment and mitigation is a critical part of any civil engineer’s job. After Superstorm Sandy devastated the New Jersey/New York shore in 2012, it was discovered shortly thereafter that federal flood maps drawn up by FEMA were wrong. Unfortunately for many home and business owners, developers relied on FEMA’s assessment of risks when they built new homes near the water and property owners made decisions about whether to buy flood insurance based on those maps.