Flood notes

Here’s my talk with Phil Picardi this morning on MPR’s Morning Edition:

The water is reaching the third-highest crest since 1997. This interesting graphic from the US Geological Survey compares recent floods on the Red River:


A legislative committee is in the region today touring the river. It holds the key to money for flood mitigation efforts. In some ways, I’ve wondered whether the relative “calm” surrounding this flood will reduce the urgency to spend money on the mitigation and river diversion plans.

It would be fascinating sometime for an economist to study what the annual flooding does for an area economy. Obviously, fighting a flood is expensive, but it’s also great for some businesses. Construction companies have all the work they can handle with large equipment and hauling clay. John Brummer told me the story last night of an initial bid for clay (used for dikes) that the south Minneapolis area sought over the winter. $20 a cubic yard. A few weeks ago, it was $60. Eventually, they found it for $30.

Hotels don’t seem anywhere near as full as 2009; there are other national stories that are keeping the outside reporters away. But the people who have come to the area have to eat somewhere. And people are still buying sump pumps, plastic, and equipment from the local hardware stores.

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