Modern, Flood-Ready Approach Needed for Building and Rebuilding

Modern, Flood-Ready Approach Needed for Building and Rebuilding
Floods

Jenna Fountain carries a bucket down Regency Drive to try to recover items from her flooded home in Port Arthur, Texas, Sept. 1, 2017.

© Emily Kask/AFP/Getty Images

The most common and expensive natural disasters in the United States involve flooding, costing an estimated $768 billion in losses since 2000, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Last year, the devastation caused by inland flooding and powerful hurricanes was compounded by aging infrastructure that suffers from years of neglect.  

Outdated development guidelines also leave communities vulnerable to extreme weather. In too many instances, structures and infrastructure are built without serious thought given to risk and potential damage from future storms. This leads to a costly cycle of damage and repair following repeat flooding.

This cycle can be broken without jeopardizing or slowing down recovery. Multiple states and thousands of localities have already strengthened their building requirements in vulnerable areas. Americans support such actions by a wide margin: A poll released in April 2017 by The Pew Charitable Trusts found that 82 percent of registered voters support requiring that all federally funded infrastructure in flood-prone areas be constructed to better withstand the impacts of flooding.

It’s long overdue for the federal government to adopt this modern, flood-ready approach. Doing so can better protect infrastructure, homes, and businesses, and save taxpayer dollars.

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Last year tied the record for the most billion-dollar natural disasters in the U.S. While no one knows what extreme weather will bring in 2018, Americans across the country should be ready for flooding, based on the frequency and magnitude of such events over the past decade. A look at the Federal Emergency Management Agency database of Disaster Declarations over that span reveals two particularly telling themes.

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School Flooding Shows Need for Better Storm Preparedness, Recovery Planning

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School Flooding Shows Need for Better Storm Preparedness, Recovery Planning

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The U.S. Needs a Flood-Ready Building Policy

Increase in billion-dollar disasters threatens people, communities, and infrastructure

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From record-breaking hurricanes to unprecedented inland deluges, the increasing losses from major flooding in the U.S. over the past several decades show that planners and policymakers continue to underestimate the risks from these extreme events. In fact, just last year, flood-related disasters caused hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of damage across America. With lives, property, communities, and taxpayer dollars at stake, it’s time for the nation to adopt a better approach to building before natural disasters and rebuilding after them so that we can end the costly cycle of damage and repair.

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Recent Hurricanes Stress America’s Infrastructure

Better flood-risk policies would help limit damage to schools, hospitals, and other facilities

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It will take months to sort out the full extent of impacts from hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, but these storms have already made this much clear: Communities and infrastructure in many parts of the U.S. are ill-prepared to handle major flooding.