I am acutely aware of the massive development that has overwhelmed our beach communities, and the havoc that would be wreaked by a direct hit by a Category 4 or 5 hurricane or a nor'easter similar to that of 1962. It is a problem that should be publicized and, for that, I applaud the series "Crisis on the Coast" (Inquirer, March 5-10)
I do feel, however, that the federal government, particularly the Federal Emergency Management Agency, came in for excessive criticism. Subsidized flood insurance was made to look like some sort of boondoggle set up to benefit rich beachfront vacation home owners. Not at all. Before 1968, there was no such thing as flood insurance. Now it's available along coastlines, and in river basins and lake areas throughout the country. In 1993, flood insurance helped thousands of Midwest farmers and homeowners back on their feet. Flood insurance is not cheap---the premium for my property was 2? times that for my regular all-perils-except-flood homeowners policy. I shudder to think what it would have cost if it were not backed by the feds.
The purchase of flood insurance forces property owners to defray a significant part of the cost of rebuilding from a catastrophe. The alternative is for the uninsured victims of a disaster to demand, and get, the government (the taxpayers) to pay for all losses.
Does it need fine-tuning? Sure. Do building codes and beach protection standards need toughening? Of course, and lower insurance premiums could be an incentive for homeowners to upgrade. But let's not gut a successful program that involves both the insured owners and the taxpayers in footing the bill, only to replace it with a politically motivated grant made in times of stress.