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Intensifying Rains Pose Hidden Flood Risks Across the U.S.

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As climate change intensifies severe rainstorms, the infrastructure protecting millions of Americans from flooding faces growing risk of failures, according to new calculations of expected precipitation in every county and locality across the contiguous United States.

The calculations suggest that one in nine residents of the lower 48 states, largely in populous regions including the Mid-Atlantic and the Texas Gulf Coast, is at significant risk of downpours that deliver at least 50 percent more rain per hour than local pipes, channels and culverts might be designed to drain.

“The data is startling, and it should be a wake-up call,” said Chad Berginnis, the executive director of the Association of State Floodplain Managers, a nonprofit organization focused on flood risk.

The new rain estimates, issued on Monday by the First Street Foundation, a nonprofit research group in New York, carry worrying implications for homeowners, too: They indicate that 12.6 million properties nationwide face significant flood risks despite not being required by the federal government to buy flood…

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