Advertisement

Reimagining the Floodplain

  • Catherine Seavitt Nordenson
  • Guy Nordenson
  • Julia Chapman
Chapter

Abstract

American geographer Gilbert F. White (1911–2006) presented a compelling argument for a comprehensive approach to managing flood risk within a floodplain region in his persuasive dissertation “Human Adjustment to Floods: A Geographical Approach to the Flood Problem in the United States,” written in 1942 and published by the University of Chicago in 1945. White asserted, “Floods are ‘acts of God,’ but flood losses are largely acts of man.” Critiquing a system of reactive legislation that promoted structural engineering solutions to flooding, including seawalls, levees, and dams, White noted that the presence of these structures had provided an overconfident sense of security to the general public and had even encouraged the occupation and development of at-risk flood areas. Throughout his career, White advocated for a more holistic approach consisting of “non-structural” human adjustments to flood risk, supporting the accommodation of flood hazards through the restriction of development within areas that were periodically subjected to flooding, a policy-driven approach of adaptation that he called “floodplain management.” Indeed, as engineered flood control structures have failed to prevent disastrous floods in recent decades and as the effects of climate change will produce increased levels of risk, the floodplain management approach is gaining advocates in coastal flood zones. In addition, the ecological components of design are being used to enhance White’s policy approach to floodplain management, bringing new and innovative design responses to the development of resilient coasts.

Copyright information

© Catherine Seavitt Nordenson, Guy Nordenson, and Julia Chapman 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Catherine Seavitt Nordenson
  • Guy Nordenson
  • Julia Chapman

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations