How to cut costs from the next hurricane

Navarre Beach after Hurricane Dennis in 2005 Credit: Wikimedia Commons

With billions in tax dollars going to rebuild hurricane-hit communities, natural resources experts are urging Congress to put policies in place that are proven to cut storm damage – and the high price tag that comes with it.

The National Wildlife Federation has been pushing a dozen approaches to curb the damage from natural disasters. One key, the group says,  is to reform the National Flood Insurance Program. The program offers discount property insurance to people in flood zones, something that increases taxpayers’ cost after a storm hits because it creates “a federal subsidy for homeowners in areas at risk of flooding” which, in turn creates “a perverse incentive to build in places likely to flood.”

The group also says Congress should keep the Clean Water Act and other environmental laws strong to protect the wetlands that serve as a natural buffer during storms, invest money to fix problems with old and faulty infrastructure like dams and levees, and require that polluting industries get sited in safer locations so a storm hit won’t cause dangerous toxic spills.

“The devastating impacts of climate-fueled hurricanes are indisputable; our leaders’ will to act in the face of these cascading disasters is tragically less certain,” Jessie Ritter, the National Wildlife Federation’s director of water resources and coastal policy, said in written statement. “We have to do better.”

You can view the group’s full recommendations here.

Julie Hauserman
Julie Hauserman has been writing about Florida for more than 30 years. She is a former Capitol bureau reporter for the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times, and reported for The Stuart News and the Tallahassee Democrat. She was a national commentator for National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition Sunday and The Splendid Table . She has won many awards, including two nominations for the Pulitzer Prize. Her work is featured in several Florida anthologies, including The Wild Heart of Florida , The Book of the Everglades , and Between Two Rivers . Her new book is Drawn to The Deep, a University Press of Florida biography of Florida cave diver and National Geographic explorer Wes Skiles.

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