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The agency has tried to explain to residents that the intensity of the rain — in relation to the period of time in which it falls — is the key factor. In other words, the neighborhood is much less likely to flood if several inches of rain fall over the course of two days instead of two hours.

Mr. Heymann said the fact that the Rhode Island Avenue corridor did not flood during the hurricane-fueled storm this week “makes that argument a little more real.”