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Economic cost of flooding could triple to $712 billion in 10 years, study predicts

A new study predicts that the economic damage caused by flooding from $174 billion to $712 billion in 10 years.

The number of people worldwide affected by flooding will double in 10 years, and the economic flooding impact will more than triple, according to a report released Thursday by The World Resources Institute (WRI).

The total population impacted is estimated to jump to 147 million in 2030 from 72 million in 2010 while the economic damage is predicted to rise to $712 billion from $174 billion.

The researchers said the worsening situation has been compounded by the convergence of three factors, according to a UPI story on the report: heavier rains and storms fueled by climate change, population growth near coasts and rivers and the overdrawing of groundwater for subsistence farming.

That reasoning may put too much emphasis in the wrong place, according to AccuWeather meteorologist Jim Andrews.

"I believe human factors alone can be considered [the reason]," Andrews said. "I cannot speak to the actual dollar estimates given. However, I believe it is clear that vulnerable infrastructure, especially along coasts has grown markedly since, say, 1950, and, with it, damage potential."

"In the United States, there is rather little undeveloped shoreline left along both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, most of which is low-lying and prone to flooding in storms," Andrews said. "River flood plains undoubtedly have ever-growing infrastructure loads as well."

WRI called on governments to take flood mitigation into account when spending to recover from the coronavirus, according to UPI. The study itself was funded by the Netherlands Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, the World Bank, the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery and Skoll Global Threats Fund.