We’re seeing reports that all or part of the Federal Floodplain Risk Management Standard (FFRMS – Executive Order 13690) will be repealed as part of the “infrastructure” EO the president is signing this afternoon.
Repealing the standard would be fiscal mismanagement and wasteful. It would effectively force taxpayers to subsidize construction that puts people and property in harm’s way. This isn’t even penny wise, pound foolish – it’s just foolish.
The FFRMS is just common sense. It represents a risk management strategy that ensures states, communities and federal agencies assess flooding risk; avoid them if possible; and insure for those that are unavoidable. This policy is effectively mitigation against future disaster losses. Build better and smarter in the first place so structures are unaffected by future flood waters. Every dollar spent on mitigation reduces disaster recovery costs by four dollars. As a reminder – flooding caused more than $260 billion in damage in the U.S. between 1980 and 2013.
Taxpayers cannot afford to subsidize high risk construction and then be asked to rebuild that same development when the inevitable disaster strikes. That’s why we joined with the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Reinsurance Association of American and other fiscally conservative organizations to defend the FFRMS when it was last under attack early in the Administration. (Here is the letter we sent at the time.) It’s why we’re going to say again: It’s a free country, build wherever you’d like, but either use taxpayer dollars wisely, or pick up the tab yourself.