1 thought on “Planned Relocations

  1. From Larry Larson:
    Thanks for a very good and needed article on planned relocations. We appreciate the article on relocation—we need to change the dialogue from “protect in place” to “retreat from the highest risk areas”. This is especially true in areas where the risk is increasing through changes in sea level or storm intensity. Flooding is the most frequent and costly disaster in much of the world, and especially in the US.

    In the US, we have some of the pieces to planned relocation in place, but not all of them; and those that are in place are not always done well. WE have had some success in relocations in US, mostly on the individual property level, with only a few “entire community” examples. Since the Midwest floods of 1993, FEMA has relocated over 35,000 buildings from the 1% chance floodplain using the Post disaster Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP). Previously, it was thought getting people to relocate was impossible, but all of these were done voluntarily by the owners. There is too often no relocation assistance for the people, but it does work because they are offered pre flood value.

    There is a Pre-disaster Mitigation Program (PDM) that has been poorly funded the past few years, but with at least palatable funding proposed by the President for FY16. Providing at least some assistance to communities who want to address the issue before the disaster occurs makes good sense. Studies show mitigation has at least a 4:1 payback for the taxpayer, yet like most nations in the world we spend only 3 to 5% of our emergency on mitigation, and the vast bulk of it on recovery and response.

    Pre-planning can be done using the Pre-disaster planning grants. Too often, these are cookie cutter plans to meet the eligibility requirement for disaster relief. This may mean the hazards analysis or risk assessment is poorly done, or may mean the community engagement is not adequate, but those could be improved over time.

    I have been involved in planned relocation with communities since the late 1970’s including Soldiers Grove and Prairie du Chien in Wisconsin, and many others throughout the nation. There are some successes out there and they usually require a strong local champion.

    We strongly support developing a bibliography of reported planned relocations. ASFPM has publications about mitigation successes on our web site, as does FEMA. You are welcome to use any of the material on our web site you find useful. Among our 17,000 members are many experts on this subject. If you think there are ways we could help you tap that expertise, let us know.
    Warm regards

    Larry A. Larson, P.E., CFM
    Director Emeritus-Senior Policy Advisor
    Association of State Floodplain Manager
    Madison, WI 53719
    608-828-3000 cell 608-235-9165

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