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How the National Flood Insurance Program Sabotaged Itself

Having charged low rates during years of bumper development, the National Flood Insurance Program worked at cross-purposes with itself while development continued on.
September 18, 2017, 8am PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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Drawing from a segment of Vox's "The Weeds," Kelly Swanson writes, "The national flood insurance program was created in the 1960s to deter people from building in flood prone areas. But, says Sarah [Kliff], it has actually done the opposite."

"[Matthew Yglesias] offers an explanation as to why representatives from flood-prone areas support the federal flood insurance program — the cheap land has promoted economic growth." Charging low premiums in what were actually high-risk areas did little to curtail development there. And when the floods came, money was available to bail the most risky homes out. 

Eager for development, local politicians supported the program. Says Yglesias, "It was the politicians in these areas that did not really want to accept the market verdict, that it may seem like the city of Houston is surrounded by cheap land, but that land has enormous hidden flooding risk."

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Published on Thursday, August 31, 2017 in Vox
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