As the recovery and rebuilding from the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy continues in the northeastern region of the United States, so must rethinking the plausibility of living close to waters. While it is understandable that the city flooding in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut was unavoidable and qualifies for federal funding for repairs, maybe this is an opportune time to reconsider living in beachfront communities.
It appears that the realization of the burdensome costs of storm damage in beachfront communities is in the crosshairs of the Obama administration. This past summer, President Obama signed a bill that makes changes to the National Flood Insurance Program. This law allots $105 billion to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the administrative agency for the National Flood Insurance Program, to update flood plain maps and to “adjust federal flood insurance premiums to reflect real risks”. This law also includes provisions for efforts to remove vacation homes and repeat claims from the protection of federal insurance.
While programs such as these face opposition by long-time residents in flood-proned areas, they are supported by liberal officials because they represent acknowledgement of the reality of climate change and its effect on global warming. Also, conservatives support these measures because they reduce federal spending. It is important to note that the federal government is not restricting citizens from living in flood-proned areas. Rather it is transferring the overwhelming financial burden of storm damage, which is expected to occur at greater frequencies, from all taxpayers to the residents in these communities.
During the 2012 presidential election campaign, we witnessed FEMA and its huge deficit become a point of contention. While it is mandatory that federal monies be spent for natural disasters, consideration must be given to the argument for the necessity of some controls along these lines. At the time the last transportation bill was signed, FEMA was $18 billion in debt. Hurricane Sandy has pushed this debt closer to the agency’s cap of $20.8 billion. The conversation to reduce the federal deficit and to address the looming fiscal cliff must include compromise on both sides of the aisle, and Congress would be remiss to not include measures to address the costs of devastation to communities by violent weather. Of course, states and localities could adopt legislation to build sea walls to protect residents living near water and/or to provide state insurance funds to pay for rebuilding after storms, but this cost can no longer fall totally on the shoulders of the federal government.
Living a green life requires making choices, some of which are difficult but necessary. To protect our families, communities, businesses and our very existence, let’s live green, be green.
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