Flood Victims Call for Insurance Overhaul, More Federal Protections

A coalition of residents from flood-prone areas is urging the federal government to improve FEMA's beleaguered flood insurance program and do more to prevent construction on floodplains.

1 minute read

January 16, 2022, 7:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


IrinaK / Shutterstock

A group of flood survivors is asking the federal government to bolster what they say is an inadequate flood insurance system, prohibit "irresponsible" development in flood-prone areas, and do more to mandate disclosure on the part of home sellers.

As Oliver Milman reports, a petition organized by Anthropocene Alliance calls for a focus on relocation of housing to higher ground and warns of an imminent "great American flood migration" as more communities become unlivable. Meanwhile, residents of flood-prone areas say FEMA's flood insurance costs are too high for many households to afford, and its outdated flood zone maps do not accurately reflect current risks and the present and future effects of climate change.

"Instances of ‘nuisance’ flooding, where high tides exacerbated by sea level rise cause streets and homes to fill with water, have increased dramatically along U.S. coastlines in recent years and more powerful storms, fueled by a heating atmosphere, are bringing heavier bursts of rainfall to parts of the country. Rising sea levels alone could force around 13 million Americans to relocate by the end of the century, research has found."

While some lawmakers fear that higher insurance rates would harm low-income households, advocates say more even drastic changes are needed to prevent developers from building on at-risk land and mitigate the damage for households that can't afford to move.

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