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State geologist says flooding in EKY is likely to become more common and costly

Dr. Bill Haneberg, KY State Geologist
research.uky.edu
Dr. Bill Haneberg, KY State Geologist

As clean up and recovery carries on in eastern Kentucky after historic flooding, the focus is beginning to move to the long term. As part of that shift, scientists are looking at the role of climate change in a situation like the recent flooding.

Bill Haneberg is the Kentucky State Geologist. He said the definition of the 100-year flood plain could change soon.

“The way it is defined now, statistically, there is, essentially, a 1% chance in any given year that that area will flood. That might increase, might double or triple. So, the 100-year flood plain might become the 50-year flood plain or the 30-year flood plain.”

He says storms like this could become more costly.

“Not just necessarily the severity of one event, because people can say “Oh we might have had a storm this big 100 years ago.” I think this issue is going to be that we’re going to have them more often, also as areas grow and the value of the infrastructure increases, if you look at the damage from those, just the cost to repair them is going go up.”

Haneberg said the area has always been flood prone. He said this ties into his work with their study of the risk of landslides. He says the Kentucky Geologic Survey is contributing to a revision of the statewide hazard mitigation plan.

You can hear from the Bill Haneberg, state geologist, later this week on Eastern Standard on WEKU.

Stan Ingold is WEKU's News Director. He has worked in public broadcasting for 18 years, starting at Morehead State Public Radio before spending the past 10 years at Alabama Public Radio. Stan has been honored with numerous journalism awards for his public radio reporting.
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