As We Recover From Flooding, Let's Talk About Prevention

Last night and early this morning, storms brought heavy rain to Maryland, with areas, such as Ellicott City, receiving up to 6 inches. This brought devastating floods in Ellicott City's Main Street and low-lying areas of Hampden and West Baltimore. So far, one person has lost her life in the floods, and many others required rescuing.

My condolences go out to those who have been affected by the storms. Cars were swept away. Businesses and homes were flooded. And thousands lost power.

My appreciation goes out to those brave people who assisted others during the storms and to those who are providing support and helping with the clean up. And I appreciate Governor Hogan acting quickly to declare a state of emergency for Howard County so that aid can be brought in. I hope that the Governor will give equal attention to Baltimore, where there is also great need.

As we recover from the storms, we must also look to what we must do to protect our communities and the planet from the impacts of the climate crisis. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), we can anticipate a sea level rise of up to 9 feet by 2050. The Union of Concerned Scientists predicts that flooding along the East Coast will become chronic by 2030 and incessant by 2045 (and that prediction came before NOAA's new numbers).

The expected increase in flooding and storms are related to the climate crisis. It is urgent that we take bold and effective steps now to decrease carbon emissions, sequester carbon and build buffers. We need a national climate mobilization on the scale of past major initiatives in the US, such as World War II and the Apollo Project. We need clear goals and a plan. We cannot leave the solution up to the whims of the market, as my opponent Chris Van Hollen would do.

We must stop building carbon and nuclear infrastructure and transition rapidly to renewable sources of energy to meet our needs. We also need to reduce consumption through energy efficiency, clean rapid transit, greater access to pedestrian and bike paths, reduced work weeks and a larger local economy. We can sequester carbon through regenerative farming techniques and wetland restoration. Regenerative farming, especially when it is organic, will improve the quality of food and thus improve health. We can also take steps to decrease the amount of impervious surfaces to reduce and control run-off in storms. These are just some of the solutions. A large-scale mobilization will also bring much needed jobs.

Some of this can be done at the local level, but other parts require state and federal actions. We are working to live by example. Our home in Baltimore is on a slight incline and used to dump large amounts of water into the street during storms. We took steps such as removing hard surfaces, building a french drain, rain gardens and swales to capture water. This has reduced our run-off to almost nothing and makes it so we have to water our gardens less frequently.

The climate clock is ticking. The establishment political parties have failed to heed its warnings, in large part because of donations from industries that profit from the status quo. That is why we need to elect candidates who don't take corporate or PAC money and who answer to the people. As we heal from the devastation brought by yesterday's storm, let's work together to build a livable future.

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