Flooding is a threat to historic buildings across the country, and most communities are not prepared to protect their valuable resources.
Those are the findings of a new study published in the Journal of the American Planning Association, and co-authored by professors at the University of Colorado Denver and the University of Kentucky.
"Historic resources are a big part of the local economy,” said Andrew Rumbach, Assistant Professor of Planning and Design at the University of Colorado Denver. "So losing those resources is not only bad for the character and identity of the place, but it’s also bad for the local economy.”
Rumbach says Manitou Springs in Colorado is a classic example of an historic tourist town that has done a good job at preservation.
With help from the state, the town has put millions of dollars into improvements to direct water away from historic structures.
The town, named for its mineral water springs, has experience significant flooding in recent years. The flood waters caused more than $100,000 in damage to one of Manitou’s oldest buildings, an inn named The Cliff House at Pikes Peak.
"The Cliff House was here before the flood maps were developed,” said Paul York, the general manager. "You can’t exactly move The Cliff House’s location, it’s right here!”
The hotel has built flood walls to protect its parking structure. They say the wall can be deployed by a single person in less than 30 seconds, in case there is little warning about an oncoming flood.
“It’s come to this,” said York, as he demonstrated how to seal off the flood wall.
The national study shows states including Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri and Ohio do not consider historic preservation on hazard mitigation planning teams or discuss historic preservation in mitigation strategy.
States including California, Indiana and Kansas do include historic preservation on planning teams.
The best performing states included Florida and Wisconsin, both of which explicitly discuss historic preservation or protection of historic resources in mitigation strategy.
To find historic buildings in your area, click here.