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As climate changes intensifies, Prince George’s County continues to be affected in a variety of ways.
The primary indicator of climate change includes rising temperatures but there’s also been an increase in rainfall and humidity. Average rainfall has increased over time while heatwaves have caused electrical outages that endanger the lives of residents who need oxygen supplies.
Craig Freeland, an environmental scientist and graduate of Denison University whose focus has been environmental education, has studied the impact of climate change on the local community.
“This summer, a higher frequency of storms and intense heatwaves have stressed out homeowners and renters alike,” Freeman said. “The slew of storms we experienced increased occurrences of flooding in peoples’ homes and businesses. It has been disheartening to see friends in the area throw away their valuables after a basement flooding.”
Freeland lives in Lanham, where a rapid rain shower caused flooding that blocked Lanham Severn Road in multiple places and left many cars stranded in waist-high water this summer.
His studies have shown that impermeable surfaces such as roads and parking lots represent a major contributor to flooding, as soil and plants can drain water while pavement operates “like a stopper in a bath tub.” He said as the County continues to expand and develop, a larger share of the existing land will become covered by pavement and water drainage will worsen.
Hugo Cantu, who currently working as policy director for County Councilman Tom Dernoga, served on the staff of then-Councilwoman Monique Anderson-Walker as she sponsored legislation to direct the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to do studies on flood plains in southern Prince George’s County.
While flooding already counts as an issue affecting County residents, he said the bill has been put “on the back burner” since Anderson-Walker resigned her Council seat to run for lieutenant governor alongside Comptroller Peter Franchot.
Cantu said he believes we will see an increase in flooding because “our stormwater system is 10 to 20 years behind.”
“It will take a significant amount of financial expertise to bring us up-to-date. We’re talking in the hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars of investment needed to get us where we need to be. Meanwhile, suburban sprawl and the reduction of green space are resulting in greater flooding in Prince George’s,” Cantu said.