Can't read this email? View this email in your browser
Ry Rivard
Water Reporter
Share Share
Tweet Tweet
Share Share
Forward Forward
The Halloween storm of 2019 caused flooding in Hamilton County not seen since 2011. Photo by MIKE LYNCH.

New national maps suggest flood risk is far higher than most people realize, in New York and across the country.
In some Adirondack counties, thousands more properties are considered at risk of flooding than federal flood estimates have shown, according to data by First Street Foundation, a Brooklyn-based nonprofit.
The group released a simple online tool, called Flood Factor, that lets people look up their flood risk by address. The website is part of a growing body of work by data scientists trying to reckon with the risk of disasters, like floods and fires, that occur at the boundary of development and nature. 
Support Adirondack journalism with a monthly donation
The federal government has long tried to compute flood risk as well, but its data is harder to understand and takes longer to update. 
Right now, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is working on flood risk maps along the Upper Hudson, Saranac and Ausable Rivers, but each river is a separate process and each process is expected to take several years.
That can be cumbersome. The Town of Peru, for instance, has said that existing flood maps are potentially inaccurate in some locations. But, according to FEMA, town officials will have to wade through two different mapping efforts to get the full picture of the risk because Peru straddles different watersheds that are being mapped separately. 
The First Street Foundation work, by contrast, takes a bunch of data, including predictions about risk posed by increasingly common “rain bombs” and spits out calculations for virtually every building in the country.
While a report accompanying the data doesn’t mention the Adirondacks specifically, it points to unappreciated flood risks caused not only by aging federal risk models but by factors FEMA doesn’t take into account, like the rain bombs and streams that aren’t closely watched with flow monitors known as gages. 

The Saranac River, for instance, has only one public stream gage. That gage, at the end of the river near Plattsburgh, wouldn’t give warning to people along the river about rising water levels – until it’s too late.
Sponsored Content
by Ausable River Association

Why Wood is Good in Streams

Stream lovers know that wide riparian buffers of native trees and woody plants provide essential benefits. Their shade cools stream edges, their roots absorb storm and flood water and stabilize banks, and their foliage provides food and habitat for birds and insects. But what happens when a tree topples into a stream? Remember, subtle bank erosion and shifts in the course of a channel are natural in wild streams. Streams alter course, banks fail, lightning strikes – a host of natural processes lead to live and dead limbs and whole trees falling into streams. This large wood is incorporated and serves...continue reading.


Adirondack Watershed Institute
A monthly donation at a level that works for you can help pay for our water reporting all year long.
Copyright © 2020 Adirondack Explorer, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.