Flooding Disasters Cost Billions in 2016; Impacts hit owners of homes and businesses across the country.
Thanks to Chris Jones for the citation.
The one issue this article highlights is that inland flooding can be as destructive (and costly) as the typical coastal flooding which is usually caused by tropical systems. While the 260 billion dollar price tag for flood damage is overwhelming, that cost is over a 33 year period in which the population of the nation increased by roughly 40% along with an explosion of development along the coast. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) often times is the mechanism used by FEMA to compensate flood victims. The NFIP has been the subject of much attention over the past few years as a result of it’s insolvency. No doubt the NFIP needs updating to enhance program effectiveness and fiscal sustainability, however, it should remain as an important tool for FEMA to use for both disaster recovery along with mitigation efforts. Some interesting facts about the NFIP:
1. Covers approximately 5.0 million policy holders.
2. Total property covered around 1.24 trillion dollars
3. Earned premiums average 3.45 billion per year
4. Upwards of a third of premiums is used NOT for payment of claims but for claims processing.
5. From it’s inception (1968) to 2005, the program was essentially financially self sufficient. Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy account for the vast majority of the program’s debt.
6. Though severe repetitive loss properties account for only around 1% of claims, they account for up to 30% of claim payments.
7. The Community Rating System program is one of the more successful programs administered by FEMA and by the federal government as a wholw. It provides financial incentives to communities for adopting sound floodplain management actions along with needed general emergency management practices.
Congress must reauthorize the NFIP by September, 2017. Items that must be examined are the structure of premiums, severe repetitive loss properties, expansion of the Community Rating System program and increase in funding mitigation work.
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Claire B. Rubin has 40 years of experience as a researcher, consultant, and educator in the fields of emergency management and homeland security.
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