Friday, April 28, 2017

Floods - California’s Uncertain Future

According to a state report, California is at increasing danger of severe flooding in the future. What happened in San Jose recently could be just a taste of things to come. A report from the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) says that 1 in 5 Californians live in a flood plain. The structures at risk of flood damage are estimated to be $575 billion. The current expenditure on flood reduction is far less than the tens of billions of dollars that will be required to increase the level of protection. In San Jose, 14,000 people had to be evacuated and the damage is estimated to be about $100 million.

Inadequate Funding – A Huge Challenge

According to the LAO, the funding for flood control is both limited and inconsistent. The Public Policy Institute of California estimates that between 2008 and 20011 the state spent $2.2 billion a year on flood control measures. Most of the dams and weirs in the state are a minimum of 60 years old and many of the levees were built 100 or more years ago. These are not to modern design and structural standards. The Department of Water Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in a study released in 2013, says that there are 836 flood management projects in the state that will require $52 billion and an additional $100 billion is required to address the problem of future flood risk.

Climate Change and New Developments Add To the Problem

The effects of climate change are well known and even if the trend is reversed in the foreseeable future, undoing the damage already caused will take decades. Expecting the scope of the problem to increase is not scaremongering – it is scientific fact. Added to this is the population growth that is pushing development into new and often unsafe areas and compounding the problem. One example is the approval given for the construction of apartments in Nordale Avenue in San Jose. This is an area that was inundated by the recent flood.

Flood Insurance Is No Longer Optional
 
The dangers to homes and property are obvious and there is no immediate solution in sight. Flood insurance is no longer an issue that Californians can afford to just think about. It is essential and needed now. Many homeowners think that their homeowner's insurance will cover such calamities and that state and federal flood assistance programs will offer them the additional protection they need. Standard homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover damage and loss caused by floods. State and federal programs are intended to offer immediate relief from the havoc that floods cause, not to help in recovery and rebuilding lives. If you do not have flood insurance, you should contact an insurance broker without delay to get the coverage you need to protect your family’s future. If you do have coverage, are you sure it is enough? Why not talk to an insurance professional to see what kind of protection you really have and if you should increase it?

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