NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


April 1, 1997

There is an object lesson, observers say, in how two communities responded in very different ways to recent floods and the policies they adopted on the question of rebuilding.

  • After devastating floods in 1993, all 900 residents of Valmyer, Illinois, moved to higher ground and rebuilt their homes and businesses on a nearby bluff safe from floods, overlooking the offending river.
  • But since January's floods, residents and developers in California's San Joaquin Valley have won approval for construction of hundreds of new homes in areas that were underwater earlier.

Those homes are among 58,000 residences planned or under construction in areas of California that flooded this year. A state law even requires communities to permit rebuilding of multifamily dwellings in a flood plain.

By contrast, at least 11,000 other homes and businesses -- most of them along the Mississippi -- have relocated to safer ground since 1993.

  • Critics of federal flood insurance policies point out that American taxpayers will shell out $2 billion this year to perpetuate the cycle of flood and relief.
  • Federal law now denies flood insurance and other aid for new building on undeveloped land in coastal flood zones.

Why not apply the same principle to rivers, critics ask?

Source: Editorial, "Taxpayers Losing Battle" USA Today, April 1, 1997.


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