America’s Need for Better “Infloodstructure”
In February, Spirit Airlines decided to transfer a portion of its operations from Miramar, Florida, to Nashville, Tennessee. The key driver of this decision was recurring hurricane and tropical storm risk. This means a loss of 240 jobs for the Panhandle area.1
By mid-September of the 2020 hurricane season, mainland U.S. had already been hit by nine named storms — the most on record since 1916. Meteorologists say that record could be broken by the end of the 2020 season.2
Have you experienced damage in recent years due to extreme weather conditions? In many cases, homeowners can purchase other types of insurance to supplement gaps in a homeowner’s policy. These may include flood insurance, a personal umbrella policy and special riders for things like valuables (jewelry, furs, fine arts, musical instruments, silver), antique and collector cars, watercraft/yachts or ATVs. If you’re interested in having a household budget review to see where you stand financially and discuss insurance options to help shore up any gaps, please contact us.
While nearly every area of the country experiences some type of natural disaster — from earthquakes to crippling snowstorms to wildfires — there are ways to mitigate some of the adverse effects. For example, greater investment in infrastructure can help prevent damages caused by storm surges and flooding. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, our most prevalent and expensive natural disasters involve flooding, with losses totaling well over $750 billion since the turn of this century. Experts say that the damage caused by inland flooding is generally compounded by the nation’s widespread outdated infrastructure.3
In September of this year, the House of Representatives introduced new legislation designed to adopt design and building codes based on current flood risks for all major construction of facilities and infrastructure. Legislators believe that investing in new and upgraded flood mitigation projects involving roads, bridges and railways, water and wastewater facilities, and electric and telecommunications substations would be cost-effective. In other words, investing in new infrastructure would be cheaper than paying for the fallout and economic losses due to disruption (e.g., closed schools, shuttered businesses and blocked access to medical facilities).4
The economic piece of this is important. While cities and towns may receive federal funding to rebuild after flood damage, the financial toll on individual households can be devastating. This is particularly true in flood-prone rural areas such as Lake Charles, Louisiana. Low-income parts of the country tend to be disproportionately affected and the slowest to recover.5 Because they were already poor before the disaster, they often lack insurance, access to credit and/or the resources necessary to apply for government aid — such as a computer or a car.
Some of the nation’s water and wastewater infrastructure is more than 100 years old, and much of it is near the end of its effective service life. The American Water Works Association estimates that the country needs to invest about $1 trillion in upgrades, repair and addition of new pipelines to meet the demand for drinking water service alone throughout the next 25 years.6
Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.
1 David Lyon. South Florida SunSentinel. Feb. 14, 2020. “Spirit Airlines has seen enough hurricanes; it’s moving https://www.sun-sentinel.com/business/fl-bz-spirit-moving-operations-center-20200214-puggqeofnneqxks7ici5y4pnny-story.html. Accessed Oct. 21, 2020.
2 Kathryn Prociv and Phil Helsel. NBC News. Sept. 21, 2020. “Beta becomes 9th landfall storm of 2020 in a record-shattering season.” https://www.nbcnews.com/news/weather/beta-be-9th-landfall-storm-2020-record-shattering-season-n1240603. Accessed Oct. 21, 2020.
3 Laura Lightbody The Pew Charitable Trusts. Jan. 2018. “Modern, Flood-Ready Approach Needed for Building and Rebuilding.” https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/articles/2018/01/modern-flood-ready-approach-needed-for-building-and-rebuilding. Accessed Oct. 21, 2020.
4 Laura Lightbody. The Pew Charitable Trusts. Sept. 30, 2020. “New Bill Aims to Make Communities and Infrastructure More Flood-Ready.” https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/articles/2020/09/30/new-bill-aims-to-make-communities-and-infrastructure-more-flood-ready. Accessed Oct. 21, 2020.
5 Knowledge@Wharton. Oct. 5, 2020. “Disaster Relief: Why the Poor Need Higher Priority.” https://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/disaster-relief-why-the-poor-need-higher-priority/. Accessed Oct. 21, 2020.
6 Zacks Equity Research. Oct. 21, 2020. “American Water’s Unit to Invest $4.1M to Replace Water Mains.” https://finance.yahoo.com/news/american-waters-unit-invest-4-114111403.html. Accessed Oct. 21, 2020.
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