Friday, December 06, 2013

Flood insurance reform is very double-edged. and may not work well for many working-class river communities

Letters to the Editor of the Wall Street Journal have a lot to say about how the Biggert-Waters Act of 2012 (the Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012) affects non-wealthy homeowners, especially those how live near rivers in working class communities.
FEMA has a page on the Act, which warns that premiums for flood insurance can increase for some but not all homeowners, link here.

Some indignant homeowners weigh in on Journal, p. A18, here  and refer to a WSJ editorial Dec. 2 “Flooding Taxpayers Again.”
Wright Flood covers the “NFIP basics” of flood insurance reform here.

Much of the DC and northern Virginia area, where I live, is hilly with many homes 50-100 feet above any moving water (although civil engineers routed some small streams into underground culverts in the 1950’s – maybe that’s a time bomb, or maybe the practice could even cause sinkholes).  When I lived in Dallas, my Pleasant Grove condo was about a half mile from a stream, but the area was much flatter.  There is a tendency to scoff at people who “take risks” by buying property close to water, but they aren’t always “rich” and many times, in mountain hollow communities in Appalachia (I drive through them all the time) there is no real choice.  And there’s no real way to avoid risk for people raised along the Gulf Coast or in the southern plains, and with climate change, the risk to insular homeowners will gradually increase.
Should “luckier” homeowners become prepared to shelter others?  Will this become a civic expectation in the future?

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