flooding

Dan Loarie/ Creative Commons

This year’s catastrophic flooding has created hard times for many people in Midwest, but it’s created a nirvana for mosquitoes.

Kansas City and the surrounding region could potentially become a hotbed for mosquito-borne viruses like West Nile virus in the coming years due to increasing temperatures and more frequent flooding, which are predicted by climate experts.

It technically began last fall when Hurricane Florence swelled the Ohio River, but really it was all the unnamed storms that came after it — one after another after another, bringing rain on rain on rain across the central U.S. until the Mississippi River hit flood stage this winter.

Much of the Mississippi, and the massive tributaries that feed it, stayed flooded until June. That meant more than 140 days of cascading disasters for hundreds of small towns from Minnesota to Louisiana and catastrophic damage to ranch and farm communities that dot the Mississippi's swollen branches.

People across southern Louisiana are spending the weekend worried about flooding. The water is coming from every direction: the Mississippi River is swollen with rain that fell weeks ago farther north, and a storm called Barry is pushing ocean water onshore while it drops more rain from above.

It's a situation driven by climate change, and one that Louisiana has never dealt with, at least in recorded history. And it's raising questions about whether New Orleans and other communities are prepared for such an onslaught.

Sea levels are rising, and that is sending more ocean water into streets, sewers and homes. For people who live and work in coastal communities, that means more otherwise-sunny days disrupted by flooding.

Claire Donnelly / StateImpact Oklahoma

Nearly all Oklahoma residents – about 93 percent – live within 20 miles of a flood control dam, according to the Oklahoma Conservation Commission.

The state has the largest number of watershed dams in the country.

Angel Portillo doesn't think about climate change much. It's not that he doesn't care. He just has other things to worry about. Climate change seems so far away, so big.

Lately though, Portillo says he has been thinking about it more often.

Standing on the banks of a swollen and surging Arkansas River, just upriver from a cluster of flooded businesses and homes, it's easy to see why.

"Stuff like this," he says, nodding at the frothy brown waters, "all of the tornadoes that have been happening — it just doesn't seem like a coincidence, you know?"

This Week in Oklahoma Politics, KOSU's Michael Cross talks to Republican Political Consultant Neva Hill and ACLU Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel about a challenge to a new alcohol law requiring the manufacturers of the top 25 brands to offer products to all distributors, recent flooding brings national attention in the form of visits from Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke and the Cherokee Nation elects Chuck Hoskin, Jr. to be its next Principal Chief.

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Nathan Rott / NPR

Early estimates for repairs to roads and bridges from May storms are coming in at $2 million.

Transportation Secretary Tim Gatz says he expects those numbers to rise as crews run conditional assessments and the cost could rise to $10 million.

Nathan Rott / NPR

May was one of the wettest months ever in Oklahoma, with parts of the state receiving record rainfall. Many communities are still dealing with the aftermath, and those efforts could be complicated by more heavy rain this month.

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