The Pew Charitable Trusts joined more than 160 national, state, and local groups from Florida to California in signing a statement last month supporting the creation of a state revolving loan fund program for flood mitigation. Signers include organizations representing mortgage lenders, insurers, engineers, flood plain managers, municipal groups, and county associations.
The program would create a partnership between the federal government and individual states to provide low-interest loans for projects that reduce flood risk and save lives and dollars. These activities could include raising and flood proofing public buildings, businesses, and residences; improving stormwater management; assisting residents who wish to move out of harm’s way; and converting frequently flooded areas into parks and other recreation areas.
The concept is gaining momentum in Congress. This year, Representatives Charlie Crist (D-FL) and Roger Williams (R-TX) introduced the State Flood Mitigation Revolving Fund Act of 2019 as a way to give communities more tools and resources to carry out flood mitigation activities. In 2017, Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), John Kennedy (R-LA), and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) introduced a similar bill in the Senate: S. 1507, the State Flood Mitigation Revolving Fund Act.
Research shows that risk-reduction measures are cost-effective, with a return on investment of $6 for every $1 spent. This loan fund would be the first flood mitigation program on a national scale to truly pay for itself and would help break the cycle of government spending to rebuild properties that flood repeatedly.