Arizona is the #3 state with the most historic sites at risk of flooding

Standin' on the Corner Park in Winslow, Arizona
Standin' on the Corner Park in Winslow, Arizona(Arizona Highways TV)
Published: Jun. 26, 2022 at 11:59 AM MST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

PHOENIX (Stacker) - Rising sea levels. Runoff from rapidly melting snow and ice. Rivers and streams overflowing their banks. As climate change continues to wreak havoc on the environmental norms humans widely take for granted, the frequency and severity of extreme weather has increased on a global scale. Floods, the most common and fatal natural disasters in the U.S., continue to get more destructive. Catastrophic flooding events once thought to occur every 100 years could become annual happenings. And the nation’s floodplains are projected to grow by roughly 45% by the end of the century.

Because of the deterioration and fragility of historical buildings, as well as the long-term degradation of the natural environment around these structures, historic sites are often at serious risk of flooding. Stacker identified historic buildings of national significance across the U.S. located in census tracts with very or relatively high risk of flooding, using data from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Risk Index and the National Register of Historic Places. The National Park Service outlines six criteria for what makes a historic building on the registry nationally significant, a less rigorous designation than being considered a National Historic Landmark. FEMA calculated the risk of flooding for each census tract by combining geospatial and historic flood-event data from the National Flood Insurance Program and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. For each state, a maximum of three historic sites are listed in order of their flood risk, though many states have more at-risk sites in total. Colorado, Connecticut, and Idaho did not have nationally significant sites on the registry located in high-risk flood regions; as such they are absent from the national list.

Stacker is publishing the raw data it merged to produce this story, available on GitHub and data.world.

Arizona by the numbers

Historically significant buildings with risk of river flooding: 24

  • Brigham City, Winslow (very high risk)
  • Gila Pueblo, Globe (very high risk)
  • Harquahala Peak Observatory, Wenden (very high risk)

From the observatory at Harquahala Peak, one can reportedly see California, Nevada, and Mexico. The high elevation and views inspired the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory to build the Harquahala Peak Observatory to study the sun in 1920. Only in use for 25 years, the building is now largely deteriorated and accessible via a hiking trail. Because of the high elevations of the surrounding mountains, as well as a nearby stream, the town of Wenden is susceptible to flooding.

Now that you know how many sites are at risk in your state, continue reading to see which states have the most historic sites at risk of flooding.

States with the most historic sites at risk of flooding

1. Florida: 32 historically significant buildings with risk of flooding

2. New York: 28 historically significant buildings with risk of flooding

3. Arizona: 24 historically significant buildings with risk of flooding

4. Pennsylvania: 22 historically significant buildings with risk of flooding

5. Texas: 21 historically significant buildings with risk of flooding

Copyright 2022 Stacker via Gray Media Group, Inc. All rights reserved. The article has been re-published pursuant to a CC BY-NC 4.0 License.