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Want to live on a sandbar? Good, you foot the bill... (update)
Posted by: mcq on Thursday, August 23, 2007

Yesterday USA Today had a lead article which asked the question, "Should beach towns be rebuilt again and again?"

The story is about Dauphin Island, AL, a barrier island in the Gulf, or as someone characterized it, an "overgrown sandbar". Of course the story and question could be about any of the barrier islands, or frequently hit areas of the coast. But here's the real question:
... Katrina's impact here and in other beach communities on the Gulf Coast has revitalized a debate over whether federal, state and local governments should do more to discourage rebuilding in areas particularly vulnerable to hurricanes, earthquakes and flooding.
The answer? No.

On the other hand:
Meantime, thanks to government help, "You'd be a fool not to live on the beach," he says. "We're building highways to them, causeways to them, sewage-treatment plants to them. We're paying their (flood) insurance to live there."

In risky areas, many homeowners enjoy artificially low flood insurance rates — a legacy of the government's effort to prod communities to join the federal flood insurance program, which began in 1968. Properties initially developed before their community joined the program are eligible for discounted flood insurance.
Make sense to you?

Want to live on a barrier island? Cool. Enjoy. But all expenses should be on you and nobody else but you. Wiped out by the latest hurricane.

Sorry about that.

UPDATE:
Commenter wolf reminds us of a good John Stossel article on the subject.
 
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Comments
Many of these problems would be cured if the federal govt would get out of the free disaster relief business and instead offer only market priced loans to the states directly with scheduled repayment plans and an inability to loan more if the state were not paying per the loan agreement. I can’t imagine that many states would want further development in these sensitive areas if the citizens of the state were paying the bills.

Mark
 
Written By: Maddog
URL: http://
I’m sure you meant "The answer? Yes." Meaning the government should do more to discourage rebuilding in those areas. I’m with you on that.

RJP
 
Written By: RJP
URL: http://
John Stossel had a similar take on this, which I also recall reading about in one of his books.
 
Written By: the wolf
URL: http://
Actually I meant "no". Of course that also means, as covered in the second point, that government does absolutely nothing for you if you’re creamed by a hurricane, nor does it waste money on infrastructure or roads or discount insurance.

My guess is that’d pretty much have the problem take care of itself.

 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://qando.net
". Of course that also means, as covered in the second point, that government does absolutely nothing for you if you’re creamed by a hurricane,
Just to clarify, do you mean zero in the way of disaster relief assistance, such as fresh water, rescue, etc?
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
You live at your own risk, or we charge you for any rescue - your choice. TANSTAAFL
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://qando.net
TANSTAAFL?
 
Written By: Amy
URL: http://
There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://qando.net
You live at your own risk, or we charge you for any rescue - your choice.
When do the bills go out to everyone in New Orleans, for choosing to live in a natural basin surrounded by major water features on the gulf coast?

 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
or for those who live in SoCal, a known earthquake zone.

and no federal assistance to rebuild local infrastructure, etc.

Why should I pay for your hospitals and schools to rebuilt?

 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
what if I live in Nebraska and a volcano filled with killer bees explodes out of the ground?

how was I supposed to plan on that?
 
Written By: jows
URL: http://
When do the bills go out to everyone in New Orleans, for choosing to live in a natural basin surrounded by major water features on the gulf coast?
I am sure you meant that as a snarky little rhetorical question. But you gave your own answer. We should have paid people who were poor to RELOCATE, not rebuild New Orleans. However, if the city has enough historical and strategic significance that we are not going to abandon it, then we should still not encourage its growth, as it is a damn site less expensive to protect only the old districts.
 
Written By: kyleN
URL: http://impudent.blognation.us/blog
Most of the historical part of NO is still above the water level or would be if the rest was allowed to be reclaimed and swell the ground level again.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
I am sure you meant that as a snarky little rhetorical question
I dunno. Something about McQ’s response really bothered me. Lots of people live in lots of places at their own risk- maybe those people who live in tornado alley should be left on their own also. All of the earthquake zones. And how about NYC? We’ve been warned here repeatedly that a Cat 5 hurricane making a direct strike could cripple us- if that ever happens, we have to pay for our own rescue because we’ve been warned, right?

If you want to say that people living in certain areas shouldn’t get rebuilding money, low cost insurance, things like that - I can agree with that in theory.

Even limited govt types can agree that providing rescue-type services is one of the essential govt services we are entitled to though, yes? Regardless of where we’re living?

If I’m living "at my own risk" does that mean the Govt has abdicated and my land is a sovereign nation? I might sign up for THAT deal.
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
I agree with Shark, as per my comment, there is some limit to "your on your own dude" thinking. Obviously, a sandbar is one thing, but lots of areas are at risk - in California wildfires and mudslides are popular. Where do we draw a line at reasonable and unreasonable?

BTW, beach front houses probably pay a lot in property taxes. Same with hillside homes overlooking scenic vistas...doesn’t that sort of cover the problem in some ways? Or I guess the opposite - those with naturally high prices would face high insurance rates but can free-ride the government bail-out after a disaster.

very tricky.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
People will always go to the water, be it the beaches, or the rivers or lakes. With such spots are inherent dangers such as flooding, and hurricanes. Other places have tornadoes, and other areas have fires. Dauphin Island is only a small example of a tourist, fishing community that was in the paths of a couple of hurricanes and needed some financial help to rebuild after the storms.

When viewing the federal dollars spent here over the last 20 years, one must simply go to the Eastern side of Mobile bay to Fort Morgan, Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, and on into Florida at Perdido Key, Pensacola Beach, etc. to see that we are a very small drop in the bucket of taxes going out. We make great negative and sensational press, but realities are much different that the press presents.
People come to this island from all over Alabama, and the surrounding states to vacation on the beach. It isn’t a private Island, when shared with all the tourists than visit and love this place. Everyone can and will enjoy what we have to offer here. Now, you want to talk tax dollars? How about that war in Iraq?...
 
Written By: Hemingway845
URL: http://
When viewing the federal dollars spent here over the last 20 years, one must simply go to the Eastern side of Mobile bay to Fort Morgan, Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, and on into Florida at Perdido Key, Pensacola Beach, etc. to see that we are a very small drop in the bucket of taxes going out.
Dauphin Island was simply the example the story used.

I don’t care where you lived ... all of the above .. I shouldn’t be subsidizing your housing costs because you choose to repeatedly rebuild in an area well known for hurricanes (and thus, flooding).

You want to live there? Fine. I have no problem with that. Just do it on your own dime.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Well there is a question, "no free water, no disaster assiatance," none? none whatsoever? So how far inland does that extend? I mean I have relatives in Columbia SC can they get free water or help clearing their streeets after the hurricane, but my property in Hilton Head is on it’s own? How so, both they and I pay Federal and state taxes, why do they get coverage and I don’t?

Seriously you can make this claim? And I’d be interested in what you call "aid" and what is "reasonable" and "unreasoanble?" I will grant you on the hurrican insurance, neither the Federal nor the states ought to be subsidizing that, but exactly what else can i get or not get and how would you justify it?
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
My total home insurance jumped from $3,500.00 to $8,200. after Hurricane Ivan - We did have a flood claim for $1,500.
My office which is also located on the Island had an increase in total insurance from $1,900. to $9,200. with no claims from any storms. Trust me, those are my own dimes - not yours. Secondly, the problem is not with the people nor with the Federal government - it is with the Private Insurance companies such as Allstate, State Farm,Alpha, etc. that blamed all damages on Flood and refused to pay their part of the claims. Our State and Federal governments need to do a much better of job of taking the Insurance companies to the wall to protect our tax dollars for the actual flood situations we are seeing around the country today.

As for my own Flood Insurance, I’ve been paying in for over 20 years at an average of $500 to $800/year depending on where I was living. This $1500 claim three years ago is all I have ever had against my payments in all those years. I can pretty much assure you that again, I haven’t touched your dime.
 
Written By: Hemingway845
URL: http://
I agree with Shark, as per my comment, there is some limit to "your on your own dude" thinking. Obviously, a sandbar is one thing, but lots of areas are at risk - in California wildfires and mudslides are popular. Where do we draw a line at reasonable and unreasonable?
Consider the woman who hadn’t even finished rebuilding from the last hurricane when Katrina came along a wiped her out again.

Because she had discounted flood insurance worth 250k a pop, she’s now rebuilding for the third time.

Seems to me that it is unreasonable to continue to subsidize that sort of behavior in an area with a history of destructive storms`. Why am I paying for her to repeatedly rebuild a place that will probably be destroyed in a few years simply because she wants too and chooses too? Why isn’t she asked to take responsibility?

Same with hills prone to mudslides. If the hills have a history of mudslides and you build there, why should your repeated rebuilding be subsidized by others?

Same with people who build houses in floodplains.

I mean they’re called floodplains for a reason!

I have no problem with you building in any of those areas. But it is your choice to do so and you should bear full responsibility for your choice.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
My total home insurance jumped from $3,500.00 to $8,200. after Hurricane Ivan - We did have a flood claim for $1,500.

My office which is also located on the Island had an increase in total insurance from $1,900. to $9,200. with no claims from any storms. Trust me, those are my own dimes - not yours.
Then more power to you ... enjoy, have a Corona, watch the sunset. My argument isn’t with you. You’re backing your choice with your bucks and that’s all I ask.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Consider the woman who hadn’t even finished rebuilding from the last hurricane when Katrina came along a wiped her out again.

Because she had discounted flood insurance worth 250k a pop, she’s now rebuilding for the third time.

Seems to me that it is unreasonable to continue to subsidize that sort of behavior in an area with a history of destructive storms`. Why am I paying for her to repeatedly rebuild a place that will probably be destroyed in a few years simply because she wants too and chooses too? Why isn’t she asked to take responsibility?

Same with hills prone to mudslides. If the hills have a history of mudslides and you build there, why should your repeated rebuilding be subsidized by others?

Same with people who build houses in floodplains.

I mean they’re called floodplains for a reason!

I have no problem with you building in any of those areas. But it is your choice to do so and you should bear full responsibility for your choice.
You didn’t address the problem some of us had with your "pay for your own rescue or tough luck" line though.

Again, do the people in New Orleans get billed for their rescues? They chose to live in a pretty risky spot, no?

 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
You didn’t address the problem some of us had with your "pay for your own rescue or tough luck" line though.
That’s part and parcel with assuming full responsibility for your choice to build on a place with has a history of nature destroying what is built wouldn’t you say?

For instance, if you are told to evacuate and you refuse to evacuate (assuming you have the means), what responsibility do I have to rescue you?

At what point is it reasonable for me to assume you’ve made a choice you’re willing to live (or die) with and leave you to your own devices?

When do you assume full responsibility for not only your choice but its consequences?

And, given all the above, if I end up having to rescue you anyway, why shouldn’t I be reimbursed for doing so?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Well I’d like to hear where the cut-off is...You’ll rescue me in Columbia SC, but not Hilton Head? How far from the coast does the prohibition extend? Or in LA how far down the canyons does the prohibition extend, in the case of fire?

And NOLA why does the Ninth Ward owe you any money because they didn’t evacuate? The city botched the evacuation plan? So would you now bill them for being poor, and hence without an automobile, have them lose their homes AND OWE YOU MONEY, because Ray Nagin is an idjit?
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Well I’d like to hear where the cut-off is...You’ll rescue me in Columbia SC, but not Hilton Head?
If Hilton Head has been blasted by hurricanes x number of times in x number of years to the point that you’ve rebuilt a number of times at my expense, yup. At some point, it becomes fully your responsibility because the risk is such that it is uninsurable by anyone.

Same where there are mudslides year after year.

Or in a floodplain.

Etc.
And NOLA why does the Ninth Ward owe you any money because they didn’t evacuate?
I never said NOLA did. I said properties which have repeatedly been struck and rebuilt. Or have slid down a hillside year after year. Or been flooded repeatedly by the same river.

This isn’t that difficult to understand.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
So we in Hilton Head and NOLA are OK, because Hilton Head has never been hit, and NOLA hasn’t been hit in decades....I’m asking for specifics here....it’s a question how many times you’ve been hit?

And we can’t we get rescued? We’re citizens AND Taxpayers, too. I see your point aobut barrier islands and insurance, but EMERGENCY SERVICES, uh sorry McQ that you OWE me...It’s a part of the current Social Contract, that for Billy Beck.

Again I agree about services PRIOR to a hurricane, but the services during and after, sorry you’re wrong. And again how afar inland does this extend, Columbia never gets "hit" by hurricanes but it’s in the hills and gets hit by massive rains FROM hurricanes? Are they eligible for any help, see my point WHERE’S the cut-off...
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Read the article cited Joe ... that’s the basis of the post.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
SO if I live in one of those areas where you designated it a "no mans’ land" I assume I get the appropriate tax discounts for not having to pay to subsidize rescue/emergency services I won’t get, right?

You can also forget about trying to get any property tax revenues from me as well.

But anyhoo McQ- Now that NOLA has been hit, I guess anyone living there is "at their own risk", and needs to forget any thoughts of rescue/emergency help right?

 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
BTW- Am I still entitled to mail services? If I build in the forbidden zone (as designated by you) please outline exactly servies that I pay for (and it is the duty of any govt) to provide that I forfeit besides emergency/rescue?

 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
SO if I live in one of those areas where you designated it a "no mans’ land" I assume I get the appropriate tax discounts for not having to pay to subsidize rescue/emergency services I won’t get, right?
Works for me. But you get to pay full insurance premiums without subsidy too.
You can also forget about trying to get any property tax revenues from me as well.
That’s up to the city and state, not me. I’m talking about a fed level here.
But anyhoo McQ- Now that NOLA has been hit, I guess anyone living there is "at their own risk", and needs to forget any thoughts of rescue/emergency help right?
It is certainly a marginal area. If it were up to me, yes, that’s right. But it’s not.
BTW- Am I still entitled to mail services? If I build in the forbidden zone (as designated by you) please outline exactly servies that I pay for (and it is the duty of any govt) to provide that I forfeit besides emergency/rescue?
Now you’re trying to change the debate. I never even intimated it was a "forbidden zone", I said at some point you need to take full responsibility for your choice to live in an area subject to repeated natural disaster. Seems common sense to me.

Mail? Yeah, I don’t care.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Now you’re trying to change the debate. I never even intimated it was a "forbidden zone", I said at some point you need to take full responsibility for your choice to live in an area subject to repeated natural disaster. Seems common sense to me.
So it’s not a forbidden zone? Thank you. Since it is legal for me to be living there and not prohibited, or proscribed or verboten, the govt owes me the same basic, vital emergency services it provides to anyone else.

It’s inconvenient and costly for lots of people to be living in lots of places. Where do you live- I’m certain I can find something that can justify cutting off emergency services to you as well.


 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
So it’s not a forbidden zone? Thank you. Since it is legal for me to be living there and not prohibited, or proscribed or verboten, the govt owes me the same basic, vital emergency services it provides to anyone else.
Nope ... we’ve already settled that when you asked for % tax relief for the amount of federal funds that might have been spent there. In return, you take full responsibility and the government leaves you alone to do so. Full responsibility, of course means full responsibility. Not partial or "when I get in trouble" responsibility.
It’s inconvenient and costly for lots of people to be living in lots of places. Where do you live- I’m certain I can find something that can justify cutting off emergency services to you as well.
We’re not talking about "inconvenient or costly" places to live. We’re talking about subsidizing living in areas which have a constant and almost predictable history of natural disaster.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Nope ... we’ve already settled that when you asked for % tax relief for the amount of federal funds that might have been spent there. In return, you take full responsibility and the government leaves you alone to do so. Full responsibility, of course means full responsibility. Not partial or "when I get in trouble" responsibility.
I think you missed shark’s point: since he doesn’t get a reduction in his taxes, he’s entitled to the same protection it provides everyone else.
We’re not talking about "inconvenient or costly" places to live. We’re talking about subsidizing living in areas which have a constant and almost predictable history of natural disaster.
As someone already pointed out, people will naturally live near water. It’s been that way since the dawn of Man, people need water to live and will move to be near water. There’s hardly anywhere in the nation that isn’t prone to some sort of recurring natural disaster. Is the solution to eliminate all federal disaster aid and relief?


Let’s consider a parallel: you live in a country that’s constantly battling another country along its border. Periodically, the neighboring country will send raiding parties into border cities or launch small explosives into them. Now, an easy solution would be to invade the bordering country and make it stop attacking the cities. But suppose you can’t for some reason: suppose that defeating the other country is impossible. Does the government have an obligation, then, to protect the citizens in the border cities? After all, they know that there’s a good chance they’ll be attacked. Does the government have the obligation to rescue them if they are beseiged? Or to help rebuild the cities that are hit by missiles?


To me, protecton and assistance during natural disasters is about the same as protection from foreign enemies.
 
Written By: Steverino
URL: http://steverino.journalspace.com/
I think you missed shark’s point: since he doesn’t get a reduction in his taxes, he’s entitled to the same protection it provides everyone else.
Yeah, well he and I were in the hypothetical at that point and I said I had no problem with him not paying a % of taxes.

In reality, I understand the point. What I’m trying to get across though is taking "full responsibility" means you pay for everything, it isn’t subsidized by others.
As someone already pointed out, people will naturally live near water. It’s been that way since the dawn of Man, people need water to live and will move to be near water. There’s hardly anywhere in the nation that isn’t prone to some sort of recurring natural disaster. Is the solution to eliminate all federal disaster aid and relief?
You’re exactly right ... and until very recently, they didn’t look to others to subsidize that lifestyle, did they?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
What I’m trying to get across though is taking "full responsibility" means you pay for everything, it isn’t subsidized by others.
Man, imagine if we applied that hard and fast to all facets of of our country :)




 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Man, imagine if we applied that hard and fast to all facets of of our country :)
Heh ... well there was a time, and not to long ago, when we did.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
I remember 1968.

And I remember people who thought "The Slippery Slope" was nonsense.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Let’s see where this argument goes with respect to the Goracle’s silly claim that sea levels will rise 20 feet. If it’s starting to happen already, why aren’t insurance companies profiting from it by selling AGW policies to the gullible?
 
Written By: model_1066
URL: http://

 
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