Proceedings from the 2009 symposium From Sandbags to Sanity: The Policy Implications of the Midwest Floods of 2008 are now available. More than 130 representatives from local government, state agencies, engineering firms, academia, non-profits, public health and the Wisconsin Legislature gathered to consider public policy and what could be learned from the severe floods that occurred in Wisconsin in 2008.
Experts who spoke at the symposium emphasized stronger leadership, more communication, better research, greater education and stiffer laws to help control flood damage and reduce loss of property and lives. They also identified a need to fundamentally reconsider how policymakers ask residents to share risk and responsibility, and the role of government in shaping those choices.
"The conference in Madison and this document are both intended to remind us of the very real risks we face from floods and other disasters, and to consider policy changes that can minimize those risks," says La Follette School associate director Donald Moynihan, who convened the symposium. "Such disasters will occur again, and they may be exacerbated by climate change and crumbling infrastructure."