No… Louisiana is not always flooded

The state of Louisiana has been in the news a lot lately, but specifically talking about Mother Nature, it’s been because of one thing; flooding.  The major flood event over the last couple of weeks that has more than one hundred thousand people filing for federal disaster help is just the latest in the states battle with water.  In fact, this is the 2nd time this year that the area has been hit with some big flooding, with heavy rains and inundated homes on our newscast just this past March.  So I’m sure at one time or another you have asked yourself, “why does Louisiana always flood?”

Well, the answer is, it doesn’t.  In fact, parts of Minnesota have flooded more over the last couple of decades then much of Louisiana.  The image above shows the federal flood claim frequency by county from 1996 to 2013 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).  The darker the counties color, the more separate flood claims over that 17 year period were filed with the government.  As for the parishes (counties are named this in Louisiana) that are currently underwater and asking for financial help, all of them have seen just as many flood claims in those years as much of Minnesota.  But if you look close, Hennepin County actually exceeds the number of claims by a category over those counties in Louisiana.  The areas of the country that have had the most claims probably aren’t where you thought they would be are they?  Some of the “most prone” areas according to FEMA are generally in an arc from the Desert Southwest through parts of the I-70 corridor and into the Northeast. 

So why the misconception?  Well, a couple of reasons at play here.  First, we only really remember the really big events, take Katrina for example, we all of course remember that because it was a HUGE disaster and long reaching affects for many reasons.  Well now anytime you think of Louisiana, you think of either Mardi Gras or Katrina… tough to think of anything else that you can relate to.  Now think of California… what’s the first weather topic you think of when the name California is said.  Probably drought right?  Well, if a 9.0 earthquake hit southern California last year, you wouldn’t think drought anymore, you’d think earthquake and all the effects associated with it right? Right. The 2nd major reason is whenever Mother Nature brings more than one event to the same area, all of sudden we think it’s a pattern because humans want to simplify EVERYTHING.  Just because something happened once, and then twice, doesn’t mean it’s going to happen a third time.  All of it in Mother Nature’s case is just sheer dumb luck.  Will flooding happen again in Louisiana?  Without a doubt, yes, but the same can be said for any part of the country… will flooding happen again in Minnesota?  Yes, it absolutely will, but when and where it happens is just a matter of time and luck of the draw.