Critically Thinking about the FEMA Flood Insurance Fiasco
A 30,000 foot view of this contrived catastrophe
As a professional scientist I’m used to deciphering complicated things. A general procedure is to examine the details in a logical manner.
Let’s take the federal (FEMA) flood insurance program. Note that the flood insurance program does not just apply to coastal properties. Everyone who lives near (not just on) water (e.g., rivers, lakes, etc.) is affected one way or another. For example, most lenders require a homeowner to have flood insurance, if there is any possibility of the home being flooded. The banks rely on FEMA to make that determination.
However, this important issue has been vaccinated to resist it from being understood. If I did give you the salient details, you’d have a migraine for a month. Just this outline will likely make most people’s head spin.
With that warning, briefly, here are some high (or rather low) points:
1 - Obfuscation is the House Special. Everything about this program (terminology, flood zone categories, maps, insurance rates, etc.) is purposefully contrived to be complicated. That is the first (and substantial) barrier to keep the public from understanding what is going on here.
2 - This is a bumbling bureaucracy on steroids. If I write FEMA asking questions about my home or neighborhood’s flood insurance, I’m told to contact my state’s flood agency. When I contact them, they say speak to my county planner or assigned flood person. When I do that, they say that everything comes from FEMA, so contact them.
3 - Surprise: it’s all about the money. The US flood insurance is something like $25 Billion in the red. Such a loss is not good, but that amount is essentially a rounding error in the recent $1.7± Trillion Biden “infrastructure” special, passed by Congress. Anyways, the flood insurance deficit is the pretense for FEMA to take radical actions.
4 - Shouldn’t we try the simple solutions first? One would think so, but that is not how bureaucracies think. For example, there are quite a few properties that have repeatedly cashed in on FEMA flood insurance. How about fixing those outliers rather than essentially scraping the entire existing system? Etc. No can do.
5 - Data? We don’t want any dam data. Future flood projections are supposed to be made on historical data. FEMA relies on a series of measurement stations for such data. But what if the closest measurement station is 50 miles away? FEMA could easily set up more stations, but that would mean YOU would have more data to dispute their claims, so forget that idea.
6 - Let’s see the Science. What Science? One would think that when FEMA made a determination of the flood zone for your house (or neighborhood), that they would be able to specifically explain how it came about. In other words, they would be able to show you their facts, assumptions and calculations. Think again! Their answer is to give you a list of general factors, with zero specifics.
7 - Civil Rights? You’ve come to the wrong department. One would also think that if there is a dispute about your home’s flood zone being accurate, that it would be up to FEMA (the zone determiner) to prove their case. Of course not. It is up to the home owner to prove FEMA is wrong. How absurd is that?
8 - Their ace in the hole. Let’s say that you have a hundred years of up the wazoo data to show that FEMA’s determination of your property has zero basis in reality. They then pull out their trump card: all your historical data is interesting but meaningless, as (they say) climate change will drastically change the future flooding situation. Of course, how much change is completely speculative — which they love!
9 - Speak to the hand. OK you say, exactly how will the flood levels change, and when? FEMA will say something like: “We’re not saying anything, it’s the computer that is the authority here.” Now the onus on the homeowner is to find out exactly what computer program is being used, what data about their property (or neighborhood) was inputted, what assumptions are made about the future, etc.
10-Robbing (neighbor)Hoods. If you don’t have a headache yet, consider that this is largely about taking from the haves and giving it to the have nots. People who own waterfront property are considered to be well off — so they can afford to generously contribute to the US Treasury. That will help pay for the Billions misspent on such absurdities as renewable energy (i.e., the unreliables).
Again, I apologize for not providing all the details here, but hopefully you get enough of the idea of what is going on. FEMA needs to be reigned in, and your federal representatives are good people to start talking to.
PS: If you are a glutton-for-punishment, here is a list of recommended changes I sent to our state flood person a few years ago. To my knowledge, none have been done.
PPS: One piece of promising good news is the Hyde-Smith Bill in the US Senate.
WiseEnergy.org: discusses the Science (or lack thereof) behind our energy options.
C19Science.info: covers the lack of genuine Science behind our COVID-19 policies.
Election-Integrity.info: multiple major reports on the election integrity issue.
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