Losses from flood-related disasters across the United States have risen by more than $100 billion each decade since the 1980s, driven by increasingly severe weather, decay and neglect of infrastructure, and development in vulnerable areas. But the impacts of these disasters often extend beyond economic losses to include community-wide disruptions stemming from closed schools and businesses and inaccessible medical facilities.
However, policymakers can help mitigate many of these issues by strengthening flood-ready standards to ensure that structures and infrastructure are designed to last for decades and to withstand future threats. Many states and localities are already embracing this approach by incorporating long-term flood risk into comprehensive planning and increasing the margins of safety when building and rebuilding in vulnerable areas.
And most Americans support these actions: In a poll released in February 2020 by The Pew Charitable Trusts, 85% of respondents endorsed requiring that all federally funded infrastructure in flood-prone areas be designed to better withstand future flooding. The federal government is overdue to adopt this modern, flood-ready approach, which can protect infrastructure, homes, and businesses and save lives and taxpayer dollars.
These resources can help more states, communities, and federal policymakers ensure that the nation’s infrastructure is flood ready.
Federal action could result in long-lasting benefits for infrastructure and communities
Devastating experiences inspire hundreds to advocate for better policies, more resilient infrastructure