Everyone benefits from hazard mitigation and insuring against flood – families, businesses, local economies – in fact, the whole community.
Think of it this way, there are two communities on either side of a river. Smithville has taken steps to be more resilient to the hazards they face (earthquake, hurricanes, floods, etc.). Over the years they’ve steered development away from flood-prone areas, they’ve ensured that local homes are built so the roofs won’t blow off during a major windstorm, and they’ve even made sure they’ve designated safe areas in all of their schools for students to go in the event of a tornado.
Johnsonville gambled and opted for the bare minimums required by law.
One day a disaster impacts both communities with hurricane-force winds and torrential rains causing the river to overflow – even in areas protected by levees.
The day after the storm, Smithville picks itself up, brushes off the dust and quickly returns to normal activities. Calls to 911 were limited because few houses suffered any damage. There were only a handful of minor injuries. For the few flooded homes, flood insurance quickly paid claims which led to contractors begin restoration work right away.
Johnsonville fared much worse. There were many injuries and even a few deaths. The roof at an elementary school collapsed trapping several classes inside requiring a massive rescue effort. The hospital was overwhelmed. Hundreds of newer homes were flooded when a protective levee was overtopped. Because so many homes were lost, people ended up moving away. Worker productivity plummeted. Stores and businesses closed. The church and the little league suffered because so many left to start over somewhere else. Recovery for Johnsonville took decades.
This example isn’t far-fetched. Each year, scores of American communities learn the hard way that mitigation activities done now save lives, money, property and communities over the long run.