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When it Rains, it Floods: Prince George's Co.

climate changes intensifies, Prince George’s County is being affected in a variety of ways. The primary indicator of climate change that most have observed is increasing temperatures, but we are also seeing increased rainfall and humidity. Average rainfall has been increasing over time, and heatwaves have caused electrical outages that endanger the lives of residents who need oxygen supplies.

Craig Freeland, an environmental scientist with a degree from Denison University who has worked in environmental education in past years, has been studying climate change locally. “This summer, a higher frequency of storms and intense heatwaves has stressed out homeowners and renters alike”, Freeman said.

“The slew of storms we experienced increased occurrences of flooding in peoples’ homes and businesses. It has been disheartening to see friends in the area throw away their valuables after a basement flooding.”

Freeland lives in Lanham, where a rapid rain-shower caused flooding that blocked Lanham Severn Road in multiple places and left multiple cars stranded in waist-high water this summer.

His studies have shown that impermeable surfaces such as roads and parking lots are also a major contributor to flooding, as soil and plants can drain water while pavement operates “like a stopper in a bath tub”. As we continue development and sprawl in Prince George’s, a larger share of the existing land is covered by pavement and water drainage will worsen.

Hugo Cantu, currently working as Policy Director for County Councilman Tom Dernoga, was on the staff of former Councilwoman Monique Anderson-Walker. She sponsored legislation to get the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to do studies on flood plains in southern Prince George’s County. Even though flooding is an issue already affecting County residents, he says this bill has been put “on the back burner” since Anderson-Walker resigned her Council seat to run for Lieutenant Governor alongside Comptroller Peter Franchot. Cantu believes that we will see an increase in flooding because “our stormwater system is 10-20 years behind”.

“It will take a significant amount of financial and expertise to bring us up-to-date. We’re talking in the hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars of investment needed to get us up-to-date," said Cantu. He also believes that suburban sprawl and the reduction of green space is worsening flooding in Prince George’s.

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