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Researchers work to improve flooding issues related to Hurricanes

Published: Jun. 24, 2021 at 7:04 PM EDT
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MOREHEAD CITY, N.C. (WITN) - In recent years hurricanes have wreaked havoc on North Carolina, including storms like Florence, Matthew, and Dorian. The massive destruction these hurricanes left behind has spurred a team of researchers to look into ways to improve the region’s resistance to flooding.

In 2019 the NC Policy Collaboratory was granted $2 million dollars by the North Carolina General Assembly to study flooding from hurricanes and to come up with solutions to the problem.

Dr. Mike Piehler is the Director of UNC’s Institute for the Environment and he led the effort to study the recent impact the state has seen from hurricanes.

“We’re having these storms more frequently than we would have predicted in the past and we also have more people in places where they are exposed to risk from these storms. For those two reasons together we really need to be as prepared as we possibly can be, we also have new knowledge that we can apply to making better plans to be in a better situation following these events,” explained Dr. Piehler.

Through their research, Dr. Piehler and his team found several solutions that local governments can implement that will help mitigate some flooding concerns.

“We were able to understand how challenges like flooding affect financial systems and the result there was really interesting that the financial risk that was present was largely held by people who did not have flood insurance so that’s a pretty simple intervention where you enhance people’s access and provide incentives for them to get flood insurance,” said Dr. Piehler.

The group also found that changes could be made to the floodplain buyout program that could make it better, and education for those taking part in the program to ensure that they are not moving to another flood prone area.

Another key point from their research included looking at improvements that could be made to natural infrastructure like adding wetlands.

The group presented its findings earlier this year to a group of state lawmakers and two bills are currently making their way through both the house and senate.

Dr. Piehler explained, “As a scientist, we hope that the things we do will find their way into policy and improving people’s lives but in this case, there is a really tangible connection, and it’s exciting.”

To see more detailed information from the work done by NC Policy Collaboratory you can visit this site, https://collaboratory.unc.edu/current-projects/flood-resilience/

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