Cleveland Area Floods But Not Like Houston

Red Shows Flooding Zones in Cuyahoga County: Image from FEMA
Red Shows Flooding Zones in Cuyahoga County: Image from FEMA

As Houston continues to deal with flooding from Hurricane Harvey emergency managers locally say the Cleveland area faces flooding in different seasons and different ways.

To start with Cleveland geography is largely elevated compared to largely low-lying Houston.  It’s reflected in the many communities with “heights” in their name: Cleveland Heights for example.

FEMA flood maps show areas of concern around tributaries and rivers including the Cuyahoga, Rocky River and the Chagrin.

But Cuyahoga County Emergency Manager Mark Christie says urban flooding is likely a bigger concern.

“The urban flooding and that’s to a much larger degree what’s happening Houston, is harder to anticipate that and predict when that will occur just based on the variables that contribute to it.”

Christie says factors like aging residential and commercial areas that aren’t able to handle massive rain events contribute to flooding.

Christie also warns, "If you live in an area that’s not near a body of water and there’s development going up all around you that you might not be aware of your area could be prone to flooding down the road.”

Development can change the way water flows.  Christie says urban planning on the front end can reduce flooding.  

For older developments and abandoned properties or those that flood regularly, FEMA provides federal dollars to reclaim properties and revert them to open greenspace which can reduce sitting water.

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