This post is part of CPR's From Surviving to Thriving: Equity in Disaster Planning and Recovery report. Click here to read previously posted chapters.
On August 15, 2017, President Trump issued an executive order to expedite federal infrastructure-related decisions by allowing only 90 days for permit decisions and cutting back on flood safety requirements. Enthusiastic Republicans hailed the step. For instance, Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-LA) said he was “thrilled by Mr. Trump’s decision.” He dismissed catastrophic flooding in Louisiana the previous year as an “isolated event,” saying that the “bigger threat . . . is from costly regulations.” Ten days later, Hurricane Harvey hit Texas and western Louisiana.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, or so goes the maxim. It could hardly be more apt than in the case of flood mitigation projects, since investments in resilience pay for themselves many times over when natural disasters strike. For instance, according to a recent report:
Recent studies have indicated that every dollar spent building or improving buildings to comply with the newer codes saves four dollars in damages. . . . [T]he return on investment in building to the upgraded codes parallels similar investment in efforts to create a more resilient infrastructure. Studies have indicated that it’s possible to receive a 6:1 rate of return on federal grants that have been provided for in mitigation efforts, including enhancing the infrastructure....