Natural disasters are inevitable. The tragic flooding we have seen unfold in Colorado this month serves as a reminder to us all that life can be flipped upside down on a moment’s notice.
With a confirmed death toll of seven people and estimates reaching $2 billion in damage, our thoughts are certainly with Colorado citizens struggling to rebuild their lives in the wake of this disaster.
The flooding in Colorado has damaged roads, homes, businesses, and agriculture production more significantly than has been seen in many years. The economy of Colorado is largely based on agriculture. It is responsible for $41 billion in annual revenue for the state.
Corn is the state’s biggest crop with annual production approaching 180 million bushels; most of which is allocated to cattle feed. Initial reports from farmers indicate that many corn harvests are completely destroyed as the fields continue to sit in water over 1 foot deep. Without any way to drain these fields (the fields are also riddled with debris that would destroy most equipment), the corn crop will likely rot before it can be harvested next month.
As tragic as this is, wheat farmers (the second largest crop in Colorado) have actually benefited from the severe flooding. Most of Colorado’s wheat is grown in the southwestern part of the state – a typically arid and drought stricken region.
Since wheat is a relatively water hungry crop, the excess flood waters will benefit wheat production this year.
Natural Disasters on the Rise
At this point, it seems futile to deny that natural disasters are on the rise. This month it’s the flooding in Colorado; a few months ago one of the most powerful tornadoes in history ripped through Oklahoma.
As you can see from this graph, there is an upward trend in terms of number of natural disasters per year. Although many experts try to pinpoint the cause(s) of this trend, the truth is that no one really knows why we have seen such a spike in natural disasters in recent years.
What we do know is that nature is cyclical. The flooding in Colorado, for instance, is considered an event that occurs approximately every 500 years.
This means that this trend of increased natural disasters will probably continue before the Earth subsides into stability once again (if it ever does).
An Interesting Way to Control Water
Once we have acknowledged that natural disasters are unavoidable and actually increasing in frequency, we must take a hard look at changes we can make to mitigate damages caused by these disasters.
Was there any way to avoid the flooding in Colorado? Unfortunately – no.
But the flooding in a mountainous region made us think of an effective method for controlling water flow and erosion. Terrace farming. Although terrace farming isn’t going to prevent flooding, its origins back thousands of years to Asia and the ancient Incas; who turned Terrace farming into a practical art form.
A good terrace design controls, directs and optimizes the flow of water down the hill.
This is a good resilient method to optimizing the use of water and allowing yourself and your family bounce back from major disasters.
Effective terrace design is a complicated process that includes:
- Noticing the slope of hills in your area and understanding how water naturally flows down them. It is impossible to fight the raw power of nature so we are best served by designing our terraces along natural water flows.
- Dig the terrace at a slight angle to the slope; allowing water to flow down the length of it. Terraces that are perpendicular to the hill are more susceptible to erosion issues.
- Placing a thin layer of crushed rocks at the bottom of the terrace allows water to drain along the entire length.
- Grass and fast-growing, deep rooted plants located along the leading edge of each terrace help to hold soil in place.
- Adding a stone wall to the leading edge of the terrace provides each layer with extra support and acts as a heat insulator.
Remember that floods are one of the most damaging and costly of all natural disasters. There is nothing we can do to prevent these floods from occurring, but do our best to divert high waters and make sure we can bounce back quickly from these tragic events.