– Floods

The Solution

Voices from the Future | Matt Russell

flooded town

The Solution

The Event: When weather patterns change from one extreme to another, such as during the 2012-2013 droughts and the 2019 spring floods in Iowa — when 100,000 acres of Iowa farmland was under water — not every farmer is impacted the same way. Some have it harder during seeding, some during growing season and some during harvesting. Still some have difficulty taking care of the cattle. But the farmers do have at least one thing in common: Planning and timing has become harder for every farmer.

Matt Russell, a fifth-generation Iowa farmer, was concerned about his cattle’s survival during the 2012 and 2013 Iowa drought.

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After the Flood

Voices from the Future | Lisa Trank

After the Flood

The Event: In 2013, a deluge caused massive floods in Colorado’s Southern Rockies. As rivers and creeks swelled across the state’s 24 counties, roads, bridges and houses were washed away. Ten residents lost their lives, and property damages were estimated at $4 billion dollars, the largest amount in the state’s history.

Lisa Trank is a writer, educator, environmentalist and longtime resident of Longmont, Colorado. During the 2013 floods there, she found herself in a surprising role as part of an emergency response team.

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The 100-Year Flood

Voices from the Future | Henry Red Cloud

The 100-Year Flood

The Event: In March 2019, overflowing creeks and raging riverbeds flooded the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Caused by a sudden, unusual blizzard that created snow piles as much as 5 feet high. Two days later, that snow melted, causing a 100-year flood. The water destroyed structures, homes, roadways and bridges, and the flooding stranded thousands of the reservation’s 20,000 residents in their homes and shelters for two weeks. Two lives were lost.

In early March, Lakota Sioux tribe elder Henry Red Cloud and his family returned home to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation after five days in an emergency shelter. He was sure the annual flooding season had passed — after all, the muddy waters had risen only knee high — and that it would be safe to return to his compound, which is comprised of five houses occupied by his and his children’s families. But this time, Red Cloud was wrong.

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The Thousand-Year Flood

Voices from the Future | Ronnie Scott

flooded town

The Thousand-Year Flood

The Event: The 2016 West Virginia flood— considered a 1,000-year natural event with a 0.1 percent probability of happening in any given year — ravaged Greenbrier Valley residents on June 23. Torrential rain and thunder, rising 10 to 12 inches in 12 hours, turned quiet creeks into flash floods that ran down steep hills, alleyways and streets washing away roads, houses and entire neighborhoods. Twenty- three people lost their lives, including a 14-year-old girl.

Ronnie Scott returned home from high a school basketball game in White Sulphur Springs, part of Greenbrier Valley, to the house he built by hand for his family.

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The Flooding of Venice

Voices from the Future | Pierpaolo Campostrini

The Flooding of Venice

 The Event: Tidal waves from the Adriatic Sea peaked as high as 6 feet and flooded the city of Venice on November 12, 2019. The waves continued to pour into the city — built on 118 islands — three times a day for the next five days, inundating city streets, businesses and many of Venice’s famous landmarks. The 923-year-old St. Mark’s Basilica was one of the most affected. Its crypt was covered with three to six feet of water, threatening to destroy irreplaceable marble-clad walls and supporting columns, inlaid stone pavements and the prized gold-leaf mosaic decorations.

Pierpaolo Campostrini was unusually nervous.

“I had a fear that something not normal was about to happen,’’ says Campostrini, a well-known volunteer management and restoration expert at St. Mark’s Basilica. He acted quickly and called his workers to stay at the basilica all night. ”The sea was coming toward the city like a wave pushed by big tides. It was caused by a combination of unusual meteorological events that have never occurred before.” Continue reading

The Escape

Voices from the Future | Rezza Aji Pratama

people wading through flood water

The Escape

 >The Event: On December 31, 2019, torrential rains pounded a swath of Jakarta. More than 400,000 people fled their homes, and 65,000 were relocated to damp evacuation centers in the greater Jakarta area. The intense rain and flooding killed about 60 people, out of which 17 were swept away by the waters, five were buried by landslides and five were electrocuted.

The river runs 650 feet behind Rezza Aji Pratama’s house in the greater Jakarta Depok neighborhood. It is a comfortable, middle-class area with single houses lining the streets. On New Year’s Eve, Pratama and his wife invited people over to celebrate the new decade. Continue reading

International Impact

Voices from the future | Jake Curtis

International Impact

 The Event: In 2004, a sudden and powerful earthquake rocked the Earth beneath the Indian Ocean. The 9.1 magnitude temblor triggered a tsunami whose power measured 550 million times stronger than the atomic bomb and devastated parts of Thailand, Indonesia, India and Sri Lanka. An estimated 230,000 to 260,000 people lost their lives.

American Jake Curtis was just eight when the tsunami washed over Phuket, Thailand. He was on Christmas vacation with his family, away from China, where his father worked for an international company. Continue reading

The Jakarta Floods

Voices from the Future | Faradilla Fajrin Al-Fath

The Jakarta Floods

The Event: On December 31, 2019, torrential rains pounded a swath of Jakarta. More than 400,000 people were affected, and 65,000 were relocated to damp evacuation centers in the greater Jakarta area. The intense rain and flooding killed about 60 people, out of which 17 were swept away by the waters. Landslides buried five people, and five people were electrocuted. 

When Faradilla Fajrin Al-Fath left Jakarta to attend Arizona State University in 2018, she thought she could leave her hometown floods behind. But she was wrong. Being in America revealed to her how serious an issue the floods actually are. Continue reading

The Chennai Floods

Voices from the Future | Anjali Ponni Rajkumar

The Chennai Floods

 The Event: In 2015, the winter monsoon season brought torrential rains to Chennai, in southern India. Unprecedented floods followed, and some parts of the city of 6 million residents experienced floodwaters as high as 8 feet. About 130,000 people were evacuated to relief shelters, 347 people died, and 3,889 cattle perished in the floodwaters.

The government warning came too late for many Chennai residents. The torrential monsoon rains — the heaviest recorded in more than a century — had overwhelmed the dam. Photographer and artist Anjali Ponni Rajkumar was at home with her family in the affluent Purusawalkam neighborhood when the rains came, but she left immediately to help other residents. Continue reading

The Flood

Voices from the Future | Reija Nykvist

The Flood

The Event: In early March 2019, a tropical disturbance was building over the Indian Ocean, close to the southeast coast of Africa. As it traveled, the mild storm grew, and by March 5, it reached its full power as a tropical depression with winds as high as 35 miles per hour. The storm moved inland, pummeling Malawi and producing heavy rains that spawned deadly floods in the southern part of the country. The rains and rapidly rising floodwaters affected more than 45,312 Malawian households, and 226,560 people were displaced, according to the spokesperson for Malawi’s Department of Disaster Management. The country lost 28 people, and 124 people were injured.

“The heavy rains started on Monday,” Reija Nykvist explains. Her family lives in a suburb about 4.5 miles outside Malawi’s second biggest city, Blantyre. The heavy rain was increasing as the days went on, but she thought that was normal. “But there was no mentioning in the news that something unusual was going on.” Continue reading

A Devastating Storm

Voices from the Future | Ntombi Makuyana

A Devastating Storm

The Event: Tropical storm Idai struck the southeastern Chimanimani and Chipinge districts of Zimbabwe on March 14, 2019. The torrential rains caused massive floods, washed away roads and bridges, submerged around 20,000 houses and completely destroyed 700 homes. An estimated 268 people died, and another 200 people were swept away by floods to neighboring Mozambique and into the Indian Ocean. Those flood victims still haven’t been found.

Ntombi Makuyana, a graduate student at Arizona State University, lives 9,686 miles away from her African grandparents. But she has kept in touch with them and her extended family. Recently, Makuyana’s sense of disconnection grew when her grandparents faced the worst — their house was destroyed and washed away by muddy floodwaters in the small village of Chimanimani, at the southeastern edge of Zimbabwe. Continue reading