August 4, 2018

Americans still building in flood plains


Many vulnerable areas of the country are seeing significant residential and commercial development despite the long-term flood risks. Governing analyzed the latest U.S. Census Bureau survey data using a methodology from the New York University Furman Center to estimate the population living in FEMA-designated 100-year floodplains. Nationally, the number of Americans living in these high-risk areas in 2016 climbed 14 percent compared to those living in the same neighborhoods in 2000. That’s actually faster than in areas outside of flood zones, where the population increased 13 percent. “The nation is spending billions every year to move people into flood-prone areas and keep people living in flood-prone areas,” says Rob Moore of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “We’ve gotten exactly what we paid for.”

Indeed, construction is permitted in Charleston and other floodplains across the country, provided it meets regulations mostly set by state and local governments. For its part, the federal government certainly doesn’t discourage development. Rules under the National Flood Insurance Program are limited and don’t account for sea-level rise. Additionally, the Trump administration has proposed rolling back some rules, which could pave the way for more development. It’s happening despite a slew of recent studies warning of greater risks than previously estimated resulting from sea-level rise in areas like those off the South Carolina coast.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It really surprises me that the insurance industry hasn't lobbied congress to make FEMA offer people equity swaps on their floodplain homes to get people out of those areas, and end development on floodplains. The insurance industry lobby is one of the groups that congress actually listens to, and the insurance industry faces lots of payouts over these floods.