Lead Letter: Reforms still needed to protect Floridians from flooding
Published in the Florida Times-Union on October 9, 2015
It’s no secret that Florida’s topography makes this one of the most flood-prone states in the nation.
And sea level rise is only making this fact of Florida life more prevalent. Policymakers at all government levels should put aside the debate over climate change causes and instead focus on solutions for rising seas and more frequent and costly flooding.
Reports have found Florida has more private property at risk from flooding linked to climate change than any other state with $152 billion in danger by 2050.
Financial risk and potential environmental damage is why Stronger Safer Florida — a coalition of business, environment and social advocacy groups — encourages continued depopulating of the state-led Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, right-sizing the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund and implementation of proper flood mitigation strategies (all of which can protect consumers, businesses and environmentally sensitive coastal property).
During the 2015 legislative session, state Sen. Jeff Brandes succeeded in passing flood insurance reform legislation that improves coastal development standards and sets up a flood insurance program mirroring the National Flood Insurance Program but offering greater flexibility of coverage and shifting the burden of claims paying to the private market where it can be more appropriately underwritten.
Now Florida Congressmen Patrick Murphy and Dennis Ross have filed the Flood Insurance Market Parity and Modernization Act, which allows for customizable private flood insurance options and more consumer choice.
The Florida Wildlife Federation applauds this idea as long as a reliance on the private market is maintained and building in high risk, low-lying flood zones is discouraged.
As the effects of rising seas and flooding intensify, we will need to take steps to mitigate the problems before they cripple our economy.
Major flood claims could have the same effect on Florida’s consumers as a season of hurricanes.
It’s something that local and state leaders must address. The Ross-Murphy proposal gives more power to state insurance agencies and more choice for consumers.
It’s a Florida solution that can benefit the whole country.