Op-Ed: Invest in Natural-Hazard Mitigation to Save Billions in Disaster Recovery

With the costs of rebuilding after natural disaster in the U.S. escalating (now estimated at $50 billion a year), David R. Conrad and Edward A. Thomas argue that scant resources can be better spent on mitigation rather than rebuilding in place.
April 21, 2013, 5am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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"Although climate change may be making the occurrence of major storms and floods more frequent, poor planning and bad development decisions are making disasters more expensive," say Conrad, an independent consultant on federal water resources policy, and Thomas, president of the Natural Hazard Mitigation Association.

"The government does not and should not dictate where people can live, own property or operate businesses. But policymakers could reduce the cost of disasters by investing more in natural-hazard mitigation and by implementing measures to discourage development of at-risk areas," argue the authors. "Our research estimates that if the government pursued these policies, it could save some $40 billion over the next decade."

"The goal should be to use federal money to prevent disasters, not merely to clean up afterward. Of course the government should continue to support Americans who are the victims of natural disasters, but we also need to help keep them safe from the next one. An effective way to reduce the cost of such events is to take active steps before a disaster even occurred."

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Published on Tuesday, April 16, 2013 in Los Angeles Times
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