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Articles by Mary Kelly

Mary Kelly is the head of Environmental Defense Fund's rivers and deltas program.

Featured Article

We’ve heard a lot this week about how the floods in the Midwest might be an act of humans — or an act of City Council, as one Iowan leader put it. We can start the futile cycle of fighting Mother Nature again if we want to: spend billions of dollars on levees and flood control infrastructure, encouraging development of river floodplains and low-lying wetlands, then watch those homes and businesses be overrun by flood water.

We saw it with the Mississippi floods in 1993, which caused billions in damages and forced tens of thousands from their homes. Now, here we are again, 15 short years later, and flooding in the Midwest is forcing thousands of people from their homes. It’s causing billions in damages to hard-working farmers, putting historic downtowns under water and breaking or over-topping levees.

In between the 1993 floods and today’s, we’ve also seen how levees failed to protect the residents of New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina’s storm surge. Spurred in part by those tragic events, the federal government recently assessed the integrity and protection level of thousands of miles of levees from coast to coast and found the... Read more