Disaster Zone

Fugate Calls for Privatization of Flood Insurance

Former FEMA administrator says we should not be insuring properties in the flood zone.

by Eric Holdeman / January 3, 2019

Craig Fugate was never one to hold back with what he is thinking, although I'm sure he did so in order to last almost eight years as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administrator for President Obama's administration. 

On Sunday, Dec. 30 Meet the Press, he called for the privatization of flood insurance, a FEMA-administered program. Today the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is billions of dollars in debt, even after a bailout and debt forgiveness following Hurricane Katrina. Fugate knows all to well about repetitive flood losses to homes and other buildings that have been repaired and re-carpeted many times over. 

Overall, I'm not a fan for the privatization of government programs. The Medicare and Social Security systems actually function pretty well. Congress will never act on the above idea until we are a bankrupt as a country and the dollar is only worth a few pennies — or less. Think the pre-World War II Wiemar Republic when in the end, "[one] US dollar was worth 4,210,500,000,000 German marks." My planning assumption is to be dead before that happens. Since the NFIP's insurance rates do not accurately reflect the risks of flooding, the NFIP will never be solvent. Congress in a moment of fiscal responsibility tried to enact appropriate market rates, but were beaten back into submission by irate constituents who wanted their flood policies subsidized by the rest of the United States taxpayers. 

The entire Meet the Press show linked above was about climate change. The opening sequence centered on disasters and the increasing impacts to people, property and the environment. 

Things are going to have to become much worse before we as a nation will be moved to act. Looking ahead, I think it will take plunging property values in Florida, with more frequent high tides impacting property and the drinking water systems. One geologist on the show stated that coastal properties in Miami will be uninhabitable by the end of this century — really not that far away. My grandson Cameron was born in 2000; he will have to be the one to validate that prognostication. 

On the show, they had a short discussion about a two-pronged attack. One is climate mitigation, reducing carbon and the realization that we now have to move to climate adaptation — since the impacts are already "upon us."  

Here are some of my old blog postings on climate adaptation if you want to better understand the issue — the older ones go back 5-6 years:

Disaster Zone TV: Climate Adaptation

Climate Adaptation and Consequence Management

Disaster Mitigation vs. Climate Adaptation: Understanding the Two