On an average day, the Haw River drifts along at a depth between two four feet along most of its path. However, during periods of heavy rain, the Haw rises rapidly and dramatically. The Haw River routinely rises to heights of seventeen or more feet, extending out of its normal banks.
Beyond the safety dangers of flooding, flooding causes devastating economic and property damage. In the heavily developed floodplain of New Jersey’s Passaic River, for example, $400 million in flood damages occurred in a single year. Floodplains covered in impervious surfaces such as parking lots or dotted with structures only exacerbate the dangers of flooding.
Alternatively, preserved floodplains and riparian corridors act as permanent “safety valves” for flooding. Natural floodplains create a place for the excess water to go and alleviate human danger and property damage when the inevitable flooding occurs.