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A new report from the World Resources Institute (WRI) found that flood risk will be high this year and that by 2030, 15 million people and $177 billion in urban property will be at risk from coastal flooding exacerbated by Climate change.

The flooding will impact people in the United States in the spring, and then impact parts of South and Southeast Asia as the year goes on. In 2019, flooding was responsible for 4,500 deaths and $45.9 billion in economic losses. The WRI is also concerned about flooding as it relates to the COVID-19 crisis.

“Floods are a threat multiplier that could worsen the public health and economic impacts we’re seeing from COVID-19,” said Betsy Otto, Director of WRI’s Global Water Program. “At a time when countries are struggling with the impacts of the pandemic, natural disasters like flooding threaten the lives and livelihoods of people worldwide, especially vulnerable populations living in crowded urban dwellings. In crowded cities, flooding can overwhelm clean water and sanitation facilities and cause waterborne disease outbreaks. This will add to the misery already being caused by COVID-19.”

To help mitigate flooding, the WRI recommends increasing spending on flood protection infrastructure in affected areas. Research from the institute found that for every $1 spent on flood infrastructure in Bangladesh, $123 in damages can be avoided.

Charlie Iceland, director of water initiatives at WRI, told the Guardian that the WRI started making flood models in 2014 and predictions of upcoming floods at that time, “But now we’re actually seeing this increase in magnitude of the damages in real time. We’ve never seen these types of floods before.”

Read more about flooding in One Green Planet, including the 2019 Venice flooding, flooding in Indonesia that displaced 150,000 people and how the NYC subway system prepares for flooding.

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