The 10 Costliest Floods in American History

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Last week, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flooded Vicksburg, Miss., to save New Orleans. The waters crested May 19 in the old Southern city at 57.1 feet, surpassing a record set 84 years ago. Flooding one city to save another was an awful choice that says a great deal about the ineffectiveness of the current flood control infrastructure. Nonetheless, flood control measures are considered advanced compared to those of just a few decades ago.

The Mississippi flood, the second most destructive in the history of the U.S., has finally begun to subside, but others are anticipated to spring up around the country later this year.

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The New York Times reports that snow packs in mountains in the U.S. West are high enough that, "Fear of a sudden thaw, releasing millions of gallons of water through river channels and narrow canyons, has disaster experts on edge." Experts can anticipate the damage, but are nearly helpless to prevent it.

The floods sweeping through the Mississippi River Basin and other parts of the region have become an increasing concern not just to the people living there, but to anyone concerned with the health of the U.S. economy. The costs of aid, of reconstruction, of destroyed crops and of lost business are estimated by some to be as much as $9 billion, and that forecast may prove to be conservative. This disaster also taxes national resources. CNN reports the National Flood Insurance Program could buckle under the weight of its obligations. "The massive Mississippi River flooding is expected to leave behind a giant bill for the government program, which offers affordable insurance to people who live in risky areas and then backstops their claims," the news network says.

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