I recently read a column by Ed Brady, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders, where he stated that HUD's proposed rule to implement the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard would impose new rules on taxpayer-funded housing in areas "...where the odds of flooding are extremely remote."
Extremely remote eh? Many who recently suffered from devastating floods in Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia, Wisconsin and other places in America were mapped outside of a floodplain. With a changing climate, storm intensity will continue to increase and sea levels will rise. These events will no longer be "extremely remote," but will become the norm.
I wonder if taxpayers who once again paid billions of dollars in disaster relief think their tax money should be used to build structures back to the way they were, only to flood again and be bailed out again? I don't think protecting homes and lives from future flood disasters is an undue burden on homeowners or builders. Too much public housing is in high flood risk areas because communities and builders looked for cheap land. So those who can least afford it are continuously flooded. This is not just an economic issue, it's a social equity and moral issue.
Protecting taxpayer investments in a period of increasing extreme flood events is an investment in long-term public safety and cost savings.
Written by Larry Larson, ASFPM's director emeritus and senior policy advisor.