Disaster Zone

The Almighty Dollar Beats Disaster Mitigation — Every Day!

I feel like we are bailing water with a thimble.

by Eric Holdeman / October 8, 2018

If you want to win the disaster resilience battle, you do so with land use planning, zoning and building codes — period! 

Should anyone be keeping score, we are losing that battle magnificently! See this Governing magazine article, Risky Waters. The subject area is Charleston County, S.C., but it could be almost Anywhere, USA where growth is pushing out into formerly rural areas. 

In the article there is a highlight that the FEMA buyout program has eliminated 6,000 flood properties in the last eight years. There is also a chart that shows 25 counties that have added 5,000 or more people to areas designated as floodplains. You see what I mean! Add to the above, almost all states have added population into areas designated as floodplains. 

Another factoid is that over half of all properties impacted by flooding have been located "outside of" the 100-year floodplain. I'll give you the three reasons we continue to have people, governments, business and regulators ignore the issue of building in hazardous areas:

1. Money

2. $$$

3. And more $$$$

Houston, and as described in the article, Charleston, are areas that epitomize the issues and forces at work. Perhaps the best we can do is stand and voice our objections, provide facts, point to the loss history, etc. However, we should not be silent. Let them vote to waive requirements and authorize development in unsafe areas, but we should not be part of the charade to give them cover for the decisions they make.