Storms are Just Going to Keep Brewing, Meaning Floods


Storms are Just Going to Keep Brewing, Meaning Floods

By: Adam M. Matheny

With Storms like Imelda, Florence, and Harvey Growing, Floods Keep Rising

In order of rainfall, Florence dumped 30 inches, while Imelda and Harvey both produced 40 inches of rain. With man-made climate change, these epic storms continue to be more frequent and growing in size and damage.

Without the necessary reforms, the massive cost to human life and financial impact and moving away from the current policy of “floods, rebuild and repeat” these costs are only going to keep rising.

By reforming the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and reimplementing Pres. Obama’s federal flood protection standards are both acceptable ways to deal with this problem to protect residents, property, and public infrastructure. This is something Congress could easily do if they stop dithering.

The Storms Keep Growing

Storms like those above are part of a trend, one in which these massive storms and the flooding they cause continues to grow. The 4th National Climate Assessment shows this to be the case in many regions. The reason, as the air continues to become warmer, it traps more moisture. This leads to more rain and with-it increased flooding and more damage.

For example, since the late 1970s in Texas records show that 7,868 homes have been rebuilt five times at a cost of $2.1 billion. These costs are borne by those who survive and the taxpayer. In the past 20 years, over $89 billion in Public Assistance Grants have been given out in flood disasters.

In 2017 Pres. Trump rolled back the changes made during the Obama administration that were intended to be used to protect public infrastructure. This only thing this has achieved is to ensure the billions of dollars that have been and will be spent will in all likelihood do little to nothing to reduce the risk of such flood damage occurring.

It is time for Congress to act by passing legislation that would codify the standards put in place by the Obama administration. This would show the public their commitment to providing the protection from flooding needed and spending our tax dollars wisely.

The NFIP Should be Reformed to Assist People to Move to Higher Ground

With the current NFIP expiring on September 30th and another short-term extension likely, it’s time for Congress to stop dithering. There are a few steps they could take:

1. Require transparency and accessibility to accurate flood risk information to ensure homebuyers know the risks they face.

2. Require the NFIP to make its data more understandable and accessible to the general public. They could also require FEMA to provide it. This would help the public understand the risks and costs, which in turn might encourage more people to build out of these high flood-risk areas.

3. It’s up to Congress via the NFIP to require FEMA to give residents who wish to rebuild their lives elsewhere more assistance than they are currently. Doing so would help slowly put an end to the rebuild, rinse and repeat. This would also reduce the financial exposure the NFIP faces each year.

In NRDC’s latest report titled, “Going Under: Long Wait Times for Post Flood Buyouts Leave Homeowners Underwater,” the time it takes for FEMA to complete a buyout is excessively long. Flood claims tend to be paid in weeks, but it can take months to years for a relocation buyout.

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