Monday, June 23, 2008

Fourty Years of Floods

I sent this to the local fishwrapper today in response to an editorial.
The editorial board (“Rebuild and learn,” June 23) suggests the “latest round of flooding ought to encourage more [government] buyouts” of homes “built in harm's way.” Good observation; poor solution.

Purchasing flood plains to prevent disasters blocks potentially productive uses. Consider Portsmouth Raceway Park in Scioto County, which floods several times a year. With a seasonal schedule, this otherwise useless land is converted into value for spectators; such a venture would cease to exist if the government bought up flood zones.

When considering a remedy for reoccurring disasters, we should go straight to the problem: The National Flood Insurance Program. Created in 1968, it was designed to protect property owners living in flood plains. But property owners living in flood plains are choosing to live in flood plains. They would certainly move elsewhere if their insurance premiums—rather than our tax bills—reflected the actual cost of living in such dangerous areas.

If anything, the outpour of aid and assistance following natural disasters demonstrates that the private sector is better suited for dealing with unforeseeable catastrophes than the public sector. Continuation of the forty year old program means more disasters, more deaths, and more debt.

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