The aftermath of Louisiana: Improving resilience to flooding

Unprecedented rainfall in the U.S. State of Louisiana, more than four times the average amount for August, has led to widespread and devastating flooding cross the area. At least 13 people have died and more than 40,000 homes have been damaged. Thousands remain in shelters or friends’ houses on higher ground, unable to return to their homes to assess the damage.

Vice president of the American Red Cross, Brad Kieserman, said:

“The current flooding in Louisiana is the worst natural disaster to strike the United States since Superstorm Sandy.”

In the worst affected areas roads remained flooded and closed, while schools, businesses and government offices have been not been open for days.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has made a disaster declaration in 20 of the state’s 64 parishes. More than 86,500 people have already registered for assistance from the agency.

Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards has pleaded for aid and volunteers to help the situation in Louisiana, stating that “we really need help.” Organisations like the Mennonite Disaster Service is answering this call, asking for volunteers to join the effort to respond, rebuild and restore the flooded areas.

The region now faces significant challenges: how to handle resulting disease, how to pay for the damage and crucially how to prevent it from happening again.

In the midst of the devastating flooding in Louisiana, a new forecasting tool has been launched which could revolutionise flood management across the USA and ultimately save lives.

The National Water Model, which uses a supercomputer and data from more than 8,000 U.S. Geological Survey gauges to simulate conditions for 2.7 million locations, will be able to generate hourly forecasts for the entire river network. Previously, forecasts were only available a few times a day for only 4,000 streamflow locations.

Not only will forecasts be generated for more locations, but those forecasts will also include more water variables such as runoff and soil moisture, which can be used as better predictors for flooding and other environmental hazards.

The National Water Model will therefore provide emergency managers, reservoir operators, first responders, farmers, barge operators, and ecosystem and floodplain managers and others with more accurate, detailed, frequent and expanded water information. Thus, improving resiliency to flooding as improved forecasting will facilitate improved planning and, consequently, protection of life and property.

Global Disaster Relief Summit (7-8 September 2016, Washington D.C.) presents a unique opportunity to network with 350+ peers and discuss the most pertinent questions around emergency response and resilience.

Over 70 speakers, including Harvey Johnson, Senior Vice President, Disaster Cycle Services, American Red Cross and Elizabeth A. Zimmerman, Associate Administrator, Office of Response & Recovery (ORR), FEMA, will offer updates on emergency procurement strategy, innovations in data management and communication technology, best practice in humanitarian logistics and lessons learned from recent disasters.

To ensure participation at this practice focused event for humanitarian leaders involved in all aspects of disaster relief operations across the USA and worldwide, secure your place now at

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