Flooding is the second weather-related cause of death for Americans.
National Weather Service Flooding is the second weather-related cause of death for Americans.

Most people think the nation couldn't have been settled without roads, but rivers were our first highways. And power plants. In the east, they enabled industry; in the west, life. Today, more than 90,580 dams harness these waterways. Some are world-renowned engineering marvels; most, like the structure that made the lake in the middle of a subdivision possible, are less awe-inspiring.

But not less critical to public safety. The federal government keeps a list similar to the National Bridge Inventory that classifies dams based on what would happen in the event of failure. Today, 15,500 dams are "high hazard," meaning people would probably die. Fixing those dams would cost approximately $22 billion.

Many states have somehow scraped together some funding, but can't be faulted for looking to Washington for support. After all, lives are on the line. The federal government doesn't want people to die, but can't quite bring itself to completely help. Congress reauthorized a safety program in 2014 and created a rehabilitation and repair program in 2016, but neither program has been fully appropriated. The federal government prefers to invest in other things that serve the common good, like the military. I would submit that, with storms increasing in severity nationwide, the average American is more likely to drown in a flood than die in a war on U.S. soil.