Study: Nuisance flooding could be more costly than once thought

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – For people living along the North Carolina coast, it’s no secret that sea level is rising. According to the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, sea level in Beaufort has risen over 2 millimeters a year since the 1970’s. It may not seem like much but Hamed Moftakhari Rostamkhani, a researcher with the U.C. Irvine Deptartment of Civil & Environmental Engineering explains why it’s significant.

“The gap between high water level and the flooding stage, which is the start of the flooding, has reduced over time,” explained Moftakhari Rostamkhani.

That has led to an increase in what’s called nuisance flooding.

“These type of floods do not cause a structural failure but they cause some business interruptions, traffic interruptions, and some public health issues,” noted Moftakhari Rostamkhani.

And those costs can add up over time. In a new study, co-authored by Moftakhari Rostamkhani, researchers at U.C. Irvine find that the cost of repeated nuisance floods over time can be similar if not higher than the damage done by a storm or hurricane.

“The infrastructure is not designed to be inundated by salty water,” said Moftakhari Rostamkhani. “Roads or pipe lines are not designed to be under salty water for a few hundreds of hours in a given year.”

Moftakhari Rostamkhani says coastal communities do a great job preparing for extreme flooding. He hopes his research will encourage them to better track the costs associated with smaller nuisance floods. Once they do, they’ll be able to find ways to lessen the impact from nuisance floods in the future.

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