Around St. Louis, where the Mississippi River lapped at the steps of the Gateway Arch during the 1993 flood, more than 14,000 acres of flood plain have been developed since then. That has reduced the region’s ability to store water during future floods and potentially put more people in harm’s way, said Adolphus Busch IV, a scion of the Anheuser-Busch brewing family who is chairman of the Great Rivers Habitat Alliance.
Similar development has occurred around Dallas, Kansas City, Mo., Los Angeles, Omaha, Neb., and Sacramento, Calif., said Gerald Galloway, a professor of engineering at the University of Maryland.
“The half-life of the memory of a flood is very short. You can already hear it in Washington, D.C.: New Orleans where?” Galloway said of the lack of action in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina last summer.
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