Why we need to make US cities more sponge-like and how we can do it to prevent catastrophic flooding in the future


People need to think ‘out of the box’ to protect major American cities like New York from catastrophic flooding and one way is to drastically change the city landscape.

The radical ideas have been published on a website called The Fast Company with 5 landscape architects talking about how they would use their skills to minimise the risk of flooding in the USA just weeks after New York was drenched with half-a-foot of water, suffering more rain in just one hour than Chicago averages in an entire month.

The number one option is to make the ground in cities far more absorbent. Concrete sends water pouring down the streets and if the drains are clogged it will just continue until it cascades into homes and businesses. Even cleared drains struggle to cope with that amount of water.

The feature is written by Elissaveta Brandon, who said: “I reached out to five landscape architects and urban designers who have been invested in city-wide, design-driven initiatives against climate change for years.

“Everyone agrees that cities have to increase their ability to absorb water. Think permeable surfaces, green roofs and other features that make room for water rather than pushing it back. In their telling, the city of the future is a sponge.”

She gave the great example of Sponge Park in Brooklyn which re-directs, holds and treats nearly 2 million gallons of stormwater every year.

James Corner, founder and CEO of Field Operations, a landscape and urban design practice based in New York City, says the key to protecting cities lies in a dual approach - reducing impervious surfaces such as parking lots and roofs while increasing absorptive landscapes such as building more floodplains, wetlands and marshes. Investment is also needed in green roofs, pocket parks and green infrastructure to help collect, store and manage water.

In the meantime, many Americans will still rely on FloodSax alternative sandbags as flood protection barriers to keep floodwater out of their homes and businesses.

To read the full feature go to https://www.fastcompany.com/90674412/5-critical-ways-to-protect-cities-from-disastrous-flooding