Three recent catastrophic floods are examined with some proposals to reduce future loss of life and property.
Indian Ocean Tsunami - Dec. '04 I can't think of anything more effective than RUN INLAND! There was no early warning system or civil defense training around the Indian Ocean perimeter. Many who perished went down to the shoreline to watch the killer waves arrive, and died. Here in Hawaii, The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center provides the early warning, and Civil Defense activates sirens around the island shorelines and issues media alerts. Monthly testing and public education insures that it works. The US West Coast and Japan have similar protection programs. It must be done around all the world's coastlines. Let’s see: 100,000 miles of vulnerable, unprotected coastline, $ 5,000 solar powered sirens at ½ mile on-center = $ 1 Billion. That’s a bargain.
Burma Cyclone - Jan. '08 Margis generated a storm surge of 20 feet that killed 200,000 +/-. Life rafts could have saved them, just like on sinking ships. Dropped by planes in boxes, inflated, anchored to the ground. 1,000,000 people? 20/raft? 50,000 rafts! At $ 10,000/raft = $ 500 Million. That’s a bargain. After the storm, repack life rafts and fly them to next flood. Unfortunately, Burma has a government indifferent to its own people.
Iowa Flooding - June '08 Rivers overtopping. Sandbags by the millions. Hard to fill! Production of only 10 bags/person/hour. And post-flood sand bag disposal is a serious HAZMAT problem! How about water filled flood bags instead! A box arrives (plane, truck?) which includes five hundred 100 gallon heavy duty plastic bags, tension straps to keep the bags from sliding, and a 500 gpm portable pump. Put the pump intake into the water (plenty of that around), place the empty bags where they're needed, and pump up each bag in 30 seconds. Two man crew can place sixty 100 gal/ bags/hour (that's 1,500 “equivalent sandbags”/person/hour). Once the barrier is fully inflated, use the pump to pump out any water leaking into the protected area. Flooding over? Deflate the bags, pack them up with the pump, and send it (store it) for the next flood. Several companies already make these bags (FlexiDam, FlowBarrier, WIPP). Need to raise a levee? Again, "flood bags" or "flood logs". Big ones.....1,000 to 10,000 gallons each. How about an instant dam. Fifty feet high, two hundred feet across, and a mile wide. Impound the flood. That's only 200 million gallons or 20,000 ten thousand gallon flood logs. Let's see: 1,000 three man crews, each with a 5,000 GPM pump = 48 hours! After the flood, empty the bags and move the dam parts to the next site. Need to plan way ahead for this one.
p.s. Titanic - April 14, 1912 Hits an iceberg. Sinks! 1,500 people dead. I could have saved most of them. Turn the ship around. Dock to the damn iceberg. Unload people onto iceberg. Great idea, just 95 years too late.