Clark School Home UMD

CDR Weighs in on South Carolina Flooding

University of Maryland Center for Disaster Resilience Director Sandra Knight and Associate Gerry Galloway recently contributed expert insights on the South Carolina flooding, resulting from the failures of nearly three dozen dams and infrastructure insufficiencies that could not hold up to heavy rainfall supplemented by the remnants of Hurricane Joaquin in early October 2015.

In an Oct. 16 video report, Knight addressed how the risk of flooding has increased in coastal areas across the U.S., as well as in areas once thought “immune” to flooding from heavy rainfall or offshore storms.

“Even if you’re not in the 100-year flood zone, you’re still at risk,” Knight told “In South Carolina, we had unprecedented rainfall. In some cases, it doesn’t take a major event. It could be storm sewers backing up or very localized rainfall.”

Similarly, Galloway contributed to an Associated Press report addressing the challenges the state of South Carolina would have to overcome to recover from the early autumn floods.

In Jeffrey Collins’ and David Lieb’s report, “Flood slams South Carolina’s already shoddy infrastructure,” Galloway echoed concerns that the recovery process in the state could take months.

In a Washington, D.C. WTOP radio report, Knight explored the question, “Could the D.C.-metropolitan area face similar disasters?”

“I certainly think we have a lot of exposure,” she said. “We saw we had a near-miss with [Superstorm] Sandy. The South Carolina incident [was]—as they say—‘unprecedented,’ but we hear a lot of that lately.”

Knight explained that the national capital region faces risks of the Potomac River flooding, and the region could even face a tidal surge or localized flooding should a strong storm hit.

“The Army Corps of Engineers just finished the 17th Street levee closure structure and that will, in part, protect from both high river flows from the Potomac and surge—but, only up to a certain point,” Knight told WTOP. “High surges will inundate other areas that are not within the District but just south of here—like [Reagan National Airport] or Old Town [Alexandria, Va.].”

Audio of the full WTOP report is available online, courtesy of WTOP.

Back to CDR News