UAB engineer weighs in on recent record flooding

Published: Oct. 22, 2021 at 4:49 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Local engineers say more needs to be done to shore up flood defenses to help avoid more widespread flooding in our area.

A UAB engineer says if cities don’t act soon to update storm water infrastructure, we could see more devastating scenarios like the ones we saw just two weeks ago when record flooding caused major damage to homes and businesses in our area.

“These used to be called extreme storm events, but now, unfortunately, this is our new normal,” said Director of the Sustainable Smart Cities Research Center at UAB, Dr. Ross Nazari.

He says the storm water infrastructure in our area is aging lending itself to more devastating flooding.

“We need to invest more in our storm water management infrastructures, and towns and … the system needs to become more proactive rather than reactive,” said Nazari.

Nazari says better planning is also needed to avoid future disasters.

He says climate change is having a major impact on weather patterns, and it’s time to update the existing infrastructure.

“New systems need to be added, including larger pipes and intakes to handle these record amounts of flooding, and then … the case is this is going to be an ongoing problem, and it needs a lot of effort,” Nazari said.

Nazari says urban areas are more prone to flooding because streets are paved, so water can’t seep into the ground the way it would in rural, or grassland areas.

He admits updating the city’s infrastructure is costly, but says it’s a necessary investment.

“People don’t see it, so it’s hard to invest on the underground, and this is one of those hard decisions that needs to be taken, but if nothing is done, we will see major disasters to become major impact on economic productivity of the region, and plus more loss of life,” Nazari said.

Nazari says it’s also important for homeowners to do their research to know if their homes are prone to flooding.

He says the Sustainable Smart Cities Research Center is working to make that information available for individual properties, so buyers know the risks before they purchase.

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