The National Flood Insurance Program will expire in 1 month – On November 30th, 2018 the NFIP will expire. That is, unless Congress can put together another extension – We don’t see reforms coming, though we know what they should be. Some alarming trends have developed in the past decade. Congressman DeFazio introduced a bill that orders the GAO to look at a buyout program for severe repetitive losses. Severe repetitive losses are homes that have been flooded 5 times or more, and there are roughly 30,000 of them. That figure grew by 73% from 1997 to 2011. According to the GAO, about 1% of the properties insured under the NFIP make up more than 25% of claims. Even worse, 22% of premiums paid into the NFIP only account for 40-45% of the full costs of flood damage.
The bottom line - The program needs to focus more on encouraging policy holders to elevate, relocate, demolish or be bought-out through a buy-out program. Without changes, the program will continue to run a loss and taxpayers will continue to fund disasters through enormous supplemental appropriation bills.
Five Category 4+ storms have hit US territory in just over a year – It is time Congress rethinks the nation’s approach to disaster planning. We simply cannot afford to stretch our (failing) NFIP any further (remember it has already been forgiven $16 billion last year), nor can we afford to continue providing massive supplemental bills (last year’s disaster supplemental was 3x the entire Corps’ Work Plan).
(Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies; adapted by Ian Livingston)
The sore truth is that the majority of homeowners in America cannot afford to build their houses to be practically indestructible such as the standalone house in Mexico Beach, FL (below) that withstood the 10+ foot storm surge and tremendous winds from Hurricane Michael. The majority of coastal homeowners reject the idea of relocating - This means that we must turn to alternatives that are less expensive to implement individually or community-wide solutions that serve everybody, like beach nourishment and living shorelines.
(Mexico Beach, FL. Photo: AccuWeather)
The Corps of Engineers have proposed a comprehensive plan to reduce hurricane storm damage along the Texas Coast. The design is to supplement the existing seawall in Galveston with a ‘coastal spine’ that runs 44 miles from the southwestern tip of Galveston Isle to the Northeast end of the Bolivar Peninsula to High Island, with flood gates bridging the gap between isles. In addition to hard infrastructure the plan includes 2.2 miles of beach restoration and dune enhancement along South Padre Island.
Once implemented, this project will set a precedent for projects in other regions, like New Jersey, whose back bays study has reached similar conclusions that recommend installing flood gates between barrier islands in combination with beach restoration. The public has 75 days to submit comments on the plan in writing or in person and the agencies involved have scheduled six public meeting in late November and December in coastal Texas communities. Speak up now.
The Corps’ Work Plan has made its way to the Assistant Secretary’s Office. A release is expected on November 20th. We will keep you posted as we hear more.
ICYMI - The Water Resources Development Act is now in effect. If you missed our briefing on the important topics in WRDA, please see it on our website.