Feature

Subsidizing shoreline foolishness

The National Flood Insurance Program—already $17.8 billion in debt to taxpayers—faces 100,000 new claims from Sandy.

EditorialUSA Today

After a horrific disaster like Hurricane Sandy, it’s natural to want “to do everything possible to help people struggling to rebuild their homes, businesses, and lives,” said USA Today. Those good intentions, however, can lead to “a lot of foolish, even dangerous, decisions.” In shoreline communities up and down the East Coast, people are now vowing to rebuild homes, vacation getaways, and businesses that the storm inundated and swept away like so many matchsticks. The National Flood Insurance Program, which is already $17.8 billion in debt to taxpayers, faces 100,000 new claims from Sandy, with payouts expected to total $7 billion or more. “Chances that the money will be repaid to taxpayers: virtually nil.’’ A 2010 study by this newspaper found nearly 20,000 shoreline properties where multiple insurance claims had produced payouts greater than the properties’ value—including one Mississippi home flooded 34 times over 30 years. Owning property on the shore has an inherent risk—a risk that seems to be growing as sea levels rise and storms become more powerful. Taxpayers shouldn’t be asked to subsidize those who build castles at the ocean’s edge. 

Recommended

A Catch-22 in Taiwan and Ukraine
Earth.
Picture of Noah MillmanNoah Millman

A Catch-22 in Taiwan and Ukraine

Germany imposes new restrictions on unvaccinated
Angela Merkel.
'a very, very difficult situation'

Germany imposes new restrictions on unvaccinated

Olympic committee: 2nd call with Peng Shuai 'reconfirmed' she 'appeared to be safe'
Shuai Peng
'difficult situation'

Olympic committee: 2nd call with Peng Shuai 'reconfirmed' she 'appeared to be safe'

10 things you need to know today: December 1, 2021
A vigil for Oxford High School shooting victims
Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: December 1, 2021

Most Popular

Late night hosts joke about Trump's secret COVID test
Donald Trump shares COVID with Joe Biden
Last Night on Late Night

Late night hosts joke about Trump's secret COVID test

Meghan Markle handed win in court battle with U.K. tabloid
Meghan Markle
meghan vs. tabloids

Meghan Markle handed win in court battle with U.K. tabloid

Michigan prosecutor may charge Oxford shooter's parents, too
Oxford High School in Michigan
In loco parentis

Michigan prosecutor may charge Oxford shooter's parents, too