Monday, October 31, 2016

Caveat Empty: The National Flood Insurance Well is Dry

One reason not much gets done about climate change and sea level rise is that government has coddled communities affected by climate-driven storm surges. Understanding that there are numerous cases which have been left to wallow and others compensated meagerly, it appears that some are nonetheless satisfied, shifting the burden onto their fellow taxpayers for their risky decision to perch themselves on the edge of a sea containing melting ice cubes.
Photo by Richard
A coddling case in point is the nearby Cove Point neighborhood, Calvert County's most flood-prone community, which is receiving federal grants to allow homeowners to elevate their homes. The same community is also up in arms over the (ill conceived) efforts to make the Cove Point LNG plant export-capable. Their NIMBY campaign stems from concerns for their safety, but the Cove Point plant has been there for some forty years, handling LNG imports, why weren't they protesting then? They bought their homes with full awareness of the plant's and sea's presence, but now they expect to be protected from both. An inflated sense of entitlement and lack of responsibility for personal decisions seems common to both grievances.

The moral hazard of rewarding recklessness has brought the National Flood Insurance Program to be $23 billion in debt, with more possibly coming in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. As claims go unpaid, or as more debt is incurred, FEMA will be loath to give money away to communities like Cove Point who choose to ignore the obvious risks.

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