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Perspective

America Is Flooding, and It’s Our Fault

Floods like the one that devastated Ellicott City on Sunday are not “natural” disasters outside our control—we can reduce the impacts and risks if we resolve to.
Floodwaters surge through Ellicott City, Maryland, on Sunday, May 27
Floodwaters surge through Ellicott City, Maryland, on Sunday, May 27Todd Marks/via Reuters

Last Sunday, Main Street in Ellicott City, Maryland turned into a raging waterway. During a torrential rain storm, its historic buildings started to fill with water, and people hurriedly evacuated to higher floors. Damage to homes, businesses, cars, and infrastructure was widespread. In total, 300 people were rescued, and one person, Sergeant Eddison Hermond of the Maryland Army National Guard, was killed.

As videos of the flooding appeared online, people voiced confusion because it looked just like the footage they had viewed nearly two years earlier. In July 2016, Ellicott City flooded during a rainstorm that brought six inches of rain in two hours. Dozens of businesses and homes suffered significant damage, roadways and other public infrastructure were destroyed, and two people lost their lives.