If You Live Behind a Dike, You Should Expect to be Flooded

It is the dirty little secret from the age when governments thought they could command the tides. Dike in Ste-Marthe-sur-le-Lac was inspected, but failed anyway.

While most people’s attention – in the US anyway – is focused on Davenport, Iowa, (at least on the subject of flooding) there has been another dike failure in the past week. That was on Ste-Marthe-sur-le-Lac in Quebec, Canada.

Hydrologist François Brissette says Saturday’s flooding tragedy was foretold for decades: “The reason they are protected by dikes is because their houses are built in a lake.”

As noted in that article, once upon a time, people only built (relatively cheap) vacation shacks in flood plains. That changed when folks decided that they wanted to live full-time on the river or the lake, and the .gov was happy to enable their bad decisions by building various flood control systems. But that doesn’t mean you are not in a flood zone.

And so Davenport, Iowa is in a similar situation, and facing more of the same. City to sound air horns if dike fails near Garden Addition.

Davenport officials are warning residents of the Garden Addition neighborhood about a possible dike failure that could worsen flooding in the West End.

Some houses were bought out after the 1993 flood, but not all. For those of you who don’t remember the 1993 flood, you can find a lot of info on the web. This article from STL News is pretty good as an overview. And 1993 wasn’t that long ago, but 26 years could have seen improvements.

And before anyone jumps on the point I am aware of the old saying, “God made the world, but the Dutch built Holland.” But take a look at what they spend on flood defenses, and get back to me on where in the US we want to sign up for similar expenditures. Assuming that the environmentalists haven’t decided that dikes/levees are not green enough.

3 thoughts on “If You Live Behind a Dike, You Should Expect to be Flooded

    • Makes no sense to me. I grew up in a river town, and there was at least one subdivision (1960s) built in part of the flood plain. And not the 100 year flood plain. The county and state spent a decade “remediating the problem.” I’m not sure they succeeded.

      The federal .gov subsidizes the flood insurance, so no skin off anybody’s nose. (There was a story after the last floods in the Russian River valley about people rebuilding – with federal flood insurance – for the 4th time in 30 years.)

      Where I grew up they eventually outlawed more building in the flood plain, but I’m not sure that includes the whole state.

      And then there is what happened in Houston after their big hurricane. Buying Real Estate is Complicated – OR – It is hard being an adult

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      • And if you want to live in a flood zone that’s fine, just don’t ask me (and the rest of the taxpayers) to subsidize your repair bill after the flood. I know, personal responsibility for one’s (stupid) actions is a very 19th Century idea.

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