In 2002, the Center for Investigative Reporting published a lengthy expose called Losing Ground, highlighting the dangers and cost to taxpayers resulting from increased development in the urban/forest interface. Much of that report stemmed from years of litigation and advocacy CURE undertook to stop the destruction of federally constructed infrastructure known as the Deer Creek levee and spreading grounds.
Now, in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, Congress may finally consider budgeting more money for FEMA to adopt mitigation measures in local communities before the disaster happens. Reuters wrote recently about flood reform. The current system is clearly broken as local jurisdictions allow development in areas that should be left as open space. In California, for example, the State designates extremely dangerous burn areas where specific construction techniques are mandated; however, those rules stopped at the city limits of Santa Rosa. This California neighborhood was exempt from fire rules. Now much of it is in ashes. The Los Angeles times did a good job recently in this article, outlining the dangers that many homeowners face. And the damage from Hurricane Harvey was worsened by Houston allowing developments paving over 15 percent of the open space that previously absorbed the impacts of hurricanes coming on shore.
In 2000, CURE published an advertisement in the Washington Post pointing out that when flooding happens ALL AMERICA PAYS. But the people who pay most are those who lose loved ones, their possessions, and their homes. Americans are good at putting on a game face for the media after the storm and claiming they will build again. Its part of the American myth and DNA. But its costly and just invites more taxpayer funded cleanups that we can no longer afford as a country.
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