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How good government can limit hurricane damage

19 7 0

The flood waters have not yet entirely receded from Houston and the Gulf Coast, but Texas Governor Greg Abbott is already talking about damage on the order of $180 billion, which would make Hurricane Harvey the most expensive storm in U.S. history. Meanwhile, Hurricane Irma is rolling into South Florida, threatening massive damage to another heavily populated region.

As the fifth-largest metropolitan area in the U.S. begins to pick up the pieces from the wreckage and another region braces for damages, some serious policy changes are needed at federal, state and city level in every municipality that could be stung by hurricanes like Harvey and Irma.

Here are three ways that sprawling coastal communities can either build back better or work to prevent future storm devastation.

Beleaguered homeowners in Texas have already filed 73,000 claims to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which administers the National Flood Insurance Program. The federal government-backed program was started in 1968. Today it underwrites some five million policies annually, including over 425,000 in the area affected by Harvey. One in four offer subsidized rates that don’t reflect the true cost of providing flood insurance. As Congress returns for its fall session, lawmakers are already grappling with the need to approve emergency funds to keep the $7.5 billion program from going bankrupt before Harvey claims can be fully paid out – a challenge that will only be greater once thousands of Irma-related claims come from........

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