The Flood was fixed


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Army Corps of Engineers, which manages dams and helps design many of the major levees in the Missouri River basin, said Dru Buntin, deputy director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Federal, state and local officials then could come up with alternatives as part of a regional approach to reducing the damage from future floods, Buntin said. Mike Parson said. The plan was announced at the first meeting of a Missouri flood recovery task force. Other states and cities also are rethinking the way they rebuild from floods, which some experts contend are becoming more likely due to climate change.

The Missouri meeting was attended by U. The bigger challenge, he said, is the overall care and capacity of the Missouri River system, which includes six major dams in South Dakota, North Dakota and Montana. In Missouri alone, an estimated 1. Officials hoping to fix flood bottlenecks pointed to Iowa Highway 2 as one example.

The four-lane road was flooded and washed out along its approach to a Missouri River bridge that connects with Nebraska. Highway engineers say part of the problem rests with a levee that juts closer to the river at that point, creating a narrow passageway for raging floodwaters. However, coping resistance and resilience depends on availability of resources. Thus, ability to absorb losses from floods and continue functioning and ability to recover from floods depends on the set of political, social, economic, and physical resources available to a household.

The question that emerges from these observations is how urbanization has created inequality in access to these resources and how the process of urbanization has exacerbated human vulnerability to environmental hazards? Again, how effective is social capital in flood hazard mitigation and how has the erosion of social capital due to urbanization affected householder and community ability to mitigate hazards in the Accra Metropolitan area? I investigated the characteristics of households and communities that have frequently recorded higher losses from floods than national averages in order to better understand and document differential human vulnerability to flooding.


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The study began with an informal conversation with relevant institutions and through this conversation I selected Alajo Figure 1 and the homeless communities for thorough study. The town is located in a flood prone area at the confluence of the Odaw River and one of its tributaries about 8 km from the Korle Lagoon where the river empties into the Gulf of Guinea. Its 80, occupy just 1 km 2 , making it one of the most densely settled places in Africa.

The national population and housing census indicates that Alajo has just 1, houses.


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  7. It is important to note that in a community such as Alajo, a single structure or house could contain more than one household unit. For example, a compound house could contain between four to ten rooms rented out to different households. With an average household size of 4. Although new houses are built each year, the pace of construction has been unable to keep up with population growth. I adopted the definition of a household used by the Ghana Statistical Services Specifically, I define a household as a person or group of persons who live together, share the same living arrangements, and consider themselves a single unit.

    In this definition, household residents need not be related by blood or marriage, but simply cohabitate. It follows that the term family is not synonymous with household in this context, even though family members who live in different households often involve one another in decisions concerning production and consumption. I follow Morris-Oswald in defining a community as a group of households that interact frequently and have common interests, needs, and shared sense of identity. Communities are, thus, not spatially defined neighborhoods but social collectivities that share something in common and may or may not be place-based.

    Thus, communities in this study are not necessarily fixed in space nor are they based on family ties. The second sample comes from a mobile community that consists of the AMA homeless. According to the population and housing census, there are homeless people in the AMA. The census defines a house as a structurally separate and independent place of abode such that a person or group of persons can isolate themselves from the weather. This definition covers any type of shelter used as living quarters, such as huts, kiosks, containers, tents, and compound houses.

    A homeless person, in this study, is a person whose usual place of residence is not a house. Interviews were also conducted with 70 homeless persons, representing approximately ten percent of the sampling frame. I also used the second part to gather information about household mitigation activities. I asked the respondents to provide information about their physical infrastructure, and how they prepared for previous floods.

    My intention was to define their living conditions and relate them to the impacts of flooding. I used the third part of the questionnaire to obtain information about the impact of floods on households. I designed the questions to collect information on damages to persons, houses, and personal belongings in , , and Other questions also provided information on recovery and sources of help for mitigating and recovering from impacts of flooding. Ten elderly people were interviewed in-depth to record their perspective on changes in their community.

    Data collected for the study was qualitative.

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    The analysis involved some attempt to summarize and order the data by identifying themes and concepts. It also consisted of the search for patterns in data and for ideas that help explain the existence of those patterns. Floods have become increasingly more severe, especially during the rainy seasons. Over a decade after the major flood disaster, losses associated with subsequent flood events continue to increase.

    For example, on July 4, , The Daily Graphic newspaper reported the death of over 17 people as a result of flooding. Over families were reportedly displaced in the process. Properties and infrastructures worth thousands of dollars were also reportedly destroyed, and economic activities disrupted. A similar report on June 28, said floods had led to the death of twenty people, displaced thousands of households, and destroyed millions of dollars worth of property.

    Between and , more than ten incidents of flooding were recorded in Accra that resulted in human casualty, displacement of households, infrastructure damage, and disruption of economic activities.

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    For instance, the rainfall of 4th July was the highest recorded in one event since The response of the catchments to rainfall events in these areas has become quicker and this increases peak flows. However, increased flood impact in Accra cannot be attributed only to climatic factors. Socio-economic factors are also implicated in the increased impact of floods. Undoubtedly, there are high levels of vulnerability to floods in Accra but who is highly vulnerable. In other words, what socio-demographic group is likely to be impacted by the incidence of floods?

    One of the objectives of the study was to assess differential social vulnerability. Details that emerged from in-depth interview revealed that most women in the study area are not able to compete favorably with men for available resources. This is because cultural norms inhibit their ability to obtain and keep a job in the formal sector of the economy. Another explanation was that most Ghanaian women are in retail trading in physical areas that are the most vulnerable to flooding and, thus, their income is usually the most affected.

    During the colonial period and to some extent during the early part of the independence period, women had limited access to formal sector jobs due to their limited educational background, and socio-cultural norms that discriminated against them Obosu-Mensah This finding is in contrast to explanations given by some social scientists for a disproportional rate of female vulnerability to hazards Drabek and Key , Bolin , Morrow These researchers often attribute higher female vulnerability to the role of women in caring for their family, and the fact that women would ensure that everyone is safe and together before evacuating during a disaster, which likely translates into higher mortality statistics for both women and children Jones Such claims and more structural findings of this study only serve to reinforce the need to consider vulnerability cross-culturally and in comparative perspective.

    Table 2: Age Distribution of Respondents. How people prepare and respond to the prospect of disaster depends on physical mobility and health. The elderly are more likely than younger people to have difficulty in moving quickly because they are more likely to be physically challenged. Thus, the capacities to walk, communicate, or evacuate decreases as age advances. In sudden-onset disasters such as floods, the elderly may be physically unable to quickly evacuate a building and help other household members especially children.

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    Conversely, it is plausible that the elderly are more attached to their homes and neighborhoods and less able than younger people to transport their valued possessions to safe places. They may feel more threatened with the loss of their home. It was observed from this study that, although none of the people aged 55 years or older had flood insurance, they were the ones that reported severe personal injuries.

    Also, the majority of the elderly interviewed indicated a lack of funds to obtain better housing because they were not working and do not receive any social security or welfare benefits. Table 2 also shows that most of the age group of people frequently affected by flooding falls between 25 and This finding is not surprising since the youthful age group is the most dominant in the population composition but underscores the fact that although the elderly 65 plus constitutes the minority age composition they are the group most vulnerable to flooding.

    The neighborhood has recently been overcome by rapid urbanization, with its infrastructure failing to support the influx of residents from various ethnic groups. I selected Alajo as a study site not only because it was among the most vulnerable to flooding in the metropolis, but also because it contains a great diversity of peoples who have differential access to resources to mitigate flood hazards. Alajo is comprised of populations that have lived there for many generations but also of recent migrants.

    The combined circumstances of the physical hazards and the societal conditions at Alajo make it an ideal place to study human vulnerability and social response to flooding. The result is presented in Table 3. Table 3 Length of Time in Accra. The situation confirms the assertion that people who have lived in an area for many generations develop a mechanism to cope with the risk at that particular place.

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    Various researchers have come to a similar conclusion that certain categories of people, such as recent migrants, are at a greater risk throughout the disaster process Morrow What constitutes a bigger problem in the case of Accra is the failure of institutions to assess attributes that characterize households that seem to cope differently, and for governmental mitigation strategies to address these apparent differential vulnerabilities. Random selections of households were surveyed using a household interview guide.

    Households were sampled following a selection pattern of one in every fiftieth house. For the homeless community, I used a purposeful selection to identify respondents for interview. In selecting the specific homeless community, I carefully examined the census data to identify typical areas that contained relatively high population of the homeless. With reference to the homeless, a different pattern is revealed. This suggests that the homeless are not pursuing mitigation activities. This also implies that not only are some of the homeless recent migrants, long time residents are also systematically rendered homeless by flooding.

    This suggests that some groups in the Accra are disproportionately burdened by the impact of the perennial flooding. The guidance stipulates that those who make below percent of the area-median-income AMI will be immediately eligible for the Restore Louisiana grants. Those making above percent AMI will be able to apply for an exemption to receive the grants. The governor's office in Louisiana said an official report must be filed federally before funds can be made available.

    The Business Report reported it may be six weeks and some 7, families in the state could qualify.

    Post flood duplication of benefits issue appears 'fixed,' lawmakers announce. New "guidance" was issued by HUD late Friday afternoon on the situation. It was not immediately clear when money will be available for those who now qualify.

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