Floods and hurricanes can threaten lives and cause significant economic and physical damage to communities, including homes, businesses, and infrastructure. From 2000 to 2017, flood-related disasters in the U.S. accounted for more than $750 billion in losses, making it the costliest and most frequent disaster threat in the nation.
Current federal and state policies are not adequate to meaningfully reduce the impact of flooding. Pew works to:
Modernize federal flood insurance. The National Flood Insurance Program is billions of dollars in debt and faces an unsustainable future.Reforms should better communicate actual risk, break the cycle of repeated loss and rebuilding in the most flood-prone areas, and provide incentives for communities and homeowners to better prepare for floods.
Mitigate disasters. With the number of disasters on the rise, the federal government must break the cycle of paying to rebuild in vulnerable areas. It can do so—with a $6 to $1 return on investment—by increasing mitigation investments to help communities prepare for extreme weather events and stem the rising costs of flood disasters.
Prioritize flood ready infrastructure. The country’s aging infrastructure—such as roads, utilities, schools and hospitals—suffers from years of underfunding and neglect and faces increasing vulnerability due to the impacts of severe weather, rising population, and changing land use patterns. Reforms are needed to make the built environment better able to withstand future floods and reduce unsustainable development in high-risk areas.
Promote nature-based solutions. Policies and federal funding should favor natural defenses, such as open green space, marshes, and mangroves. Coastal wetlands prevented $625 million in property damage in the Northeast during Superstorm Sandy. Flood planning and preparedness should incorporate nature-based solutions to better protect property and the environment.
Flooding is the most common and costly natural disaster in the United States. We work with government officials and local leaders to improve federal and state policies that can reduce the impact of flooding on communities.