RMS Report Predicts Increasing Flood Risk in New Orleans

December 5, 2006

Risk Management Solutions released a report on the future flood risk faced by the city of New Orleans due to hurricane storm surges, concluding the threat of flooding continues to increase due to a combination of factors.

The company said Flood Risk in New Orleans: Implications for Future Management and Insurability, outlines the ongoing threat of flood risk due to future hurricane storm surges and considers the role of insurance, the planning process, and the government in providing physical and economic protection so those living and investing in the city can have confidence that the risk is being effectively managed.

According to RMS, policymakers responsible for the safety and prosperity of New Orleans must plan for a future that will undoubtedly be more hazardous than in the past. The report concludes that the threat of flooding in the city continues to increase due to a combination of three physical temporal factors:

* As a result of its location on thick recent delta sediments along the edge of an oceanic basin, the city is sinking at geologically rapid rates;
* Over the last decade, global sea level rise has increased as a result of climate change and is predicted to accelerate into the future;
* The level of Atlantic basin hurricane activity has risen, with the biggest increases for the strongest storms, particularly in and around the Gulf of Mexico.

These factors all serve to increase the storm surge flood hazard faced by New Orleans, and will significantly raise the risk of flooding in the city through the 21st century, the report contends.

In announcing the report’s release, Hemant Shah, president and CEO of RMS said, “These problems are shared by many cities along the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, as well as other coastal cities around the world that face similar risks due to rising sea levels and increasing storm intensity associated with climate change.”

According to the company, the report illustrates how the risk analysis involved in assessing insurability can be a useful tool for policy makers concerned with determining acceptable levels of risk. In addition, the use of catastrophe models to quantify the risk allows the individual components of risk (hazard, exposure, vulnerability) to be separated, so that uncertainties are explored along with alternative strategies for risk mitigation.

Source: RMS

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