Floody someday

Does your home float?

Does your home float?

(Come friend Aunt Ruthie on Facebook and let’s hang out.)

And in the beginning, there was Hurricane Sandy. The devastating media coverage, the strange timing, the odd political bedfellows. And then there was New York’s Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo linking it all to climate change. And then there was the image on the front page of The New York Times Sunday Review on November 25: the Statue of Liberty standing on Ellis Island, shoulder-deep in a rising ocean. As images go, it reminded Auntie Ruth a tad of Charlton Heston and the fallen Statue of Liberty at the very end of the first of the Planet of the Apes series. (A map detailing the impact of rising sea levels on Sacramento was included in the Sunday Review’s story.)

Climate change: Gee, it’s arrived. When the NYT—arguably, America’s paper of record—writes, “Whether in 50 or 100 or 200 years, there is a good chance New York City will sink beneath the sea,” while it may not be news to a lot of people, it marks a sea change of a sort.

But we're Sacramento. Boy, howdy, we're a floodplain people. Build it and they will come and, hopefully, float.

Matt Weiser and Phillip Reese reported in The Sacramento Bee in mid-November that in the case of a superstorm and the possibility of broken levees—by nature less predictable than, say, a hurricane—floodwaters could rise 1 foot in two hours or less. That among the Pocket, Land Park, River Park and Natomas areas, all “considered ‘rescue areas.' … As the flood continued, some of these areas would see water rise high enough to submerge a two-story house.” The variables are many.

Chilling stuff.

There are those who advocate we mitigate the effects of climate change, and those who advocate we adapt to it. All over the world, the strategies unfold. International Marine Floatation Systems Inc. builds houses on a foundation of concrete shell and a Styrofoam core. Along these lines, the Dutch have floating houses built on steel-pole anchor homes: They float up and down the poles as the waters rise and fall. In a Guardian UK article, Denis D. Gray details hospitals on stilts in Thailand, quotes experts envisioning Manhattan ringed by a sea wall and “a network of floating islands” in the Maldives, the world’s lowest country.

What's the long view here in Sacramento? A good question to ask. As to the short view, you can find detailed flood information by Googling “Sacramento neighborhood flood depth maps.”