Neglecting to prepare defenses against flooding from rising seas, storm surges or torrential rains risks social and economic chaos
Each year when the monsoon rain sheets down and the tides swell over coastal Mumbai, Saif shutters his soda shop on Juhu Beach and takes shelter up in the rafters. Still, the water invades through the roof and over the concrete floors, sometimes reaching as high as the freezers full of ice cream.
For 36-year-old Saif, the coastal megacity’s chronic flooding is stressful. “What would happen if too much water comes?” asks Saif, who, like many in India, goes by one name. “I could get swept up with it.” Last year’s torrential floods killed at least 14 people in Mumbai. And in July 2005, when a meter of rain fell in a single day, flooding cost the city about $1.7 billion in damages.
Rebuilding his uninsured shop after the 2005 floods cost Saif about $57,000. He was lucky. When those floodwaters receded after two days, more than 1,000 people had died from drowning, landslides or