An updated guide from the National Wildlife Federation says Iowa remains vulnerable to flooding brought on by climate change.
The “Unnatural Disasters” map shows how these threats can harm local economies and wildlife. The Federation released its first map in 2018.
Joe Wilkinson, president of the Iowa Wildlife Federation, says the new findings illustrate the harmful effects of disasters the state witnessed over the past year. He says with flooding, the damage can range very widely.
“Whether it’s just something from a flooded field that will affect nesting birds, game birds, pheasants, other songbirds,” says Wilkinson. “Or whether it’s the months-long inundation of lowlands, and even towns and main streets.”
The map says in 2019, flooding from the Missouri River cost Iowa $1.6 billion. Flooding from the Mississippi River resulted in $1 million in damage.
It also says for the Midwest, heavy precipitation events bring 42% more rain to the region compared to 50 years ago. The report comes as experts warn the window is closing to prevent the most extreme impacts of climate change.
Katie Rock is a Soil and Water Conservation District commissioner for Polk County. She says she hopes policymakers take notice as the state continues to deal with these threats.
“This has been a trend that has been slowly happening, maybe in a way that most people don’t notice,” says Rock. “But today, it’s in a way that’s obvious and very damaging.”
For her jurisdiction, Rock says a 2018 extreme weather event brought seven inches of rain in a 24-hour period. She says it resulted in millions of dollars in damages across the entire county.
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— Mike Moen, Iowa Public News Service