disaster mitigation

Smoothing the Tides

After a year of 15 hurricanes — not including tropical storms — there has been considerable discussion of moral implications of building on floodplains. Developers consider themselves above such morality, as their motive is profit, and have no obligation for sustainability after the loan paperwork has been signed. However, the local government, i.e. the people who sign the permits, owe their constituents better than treating them like marks for the next con artist. Government entities need to begin making developers responsible for how a city is shaped, since residents do not consistently control their own housing.
If there has ever been a hurricane which devastated an area or a flood that caused extensive damage, no further housing should be built there. Many might argue that mitigation efforts are possible, but truthfully, developers are using home ownership propaganda coupled with low interest rates to resell homes in areas where flooding has happened repeatedly in the last 15 years. Cities convince themselves that the jobs brought are worth the devastation when the emergencies hit, but it would be prudent for cities to recognize that if companies are building in places to flood, they are taking advantage of consumers.
Municipalities also can develop their areas in ways that mitigate for flood control, which should not be left up to developers. Worldwide, there is extensive research being done to help make water-logged areas less vulnerable to some of the more powerful weather patterns. International examples and collaboration could mean more resources and a less traumatic response when the next big storm passes. If developers were eased out of the process in favor of adopting new techniques, they would need to adapt to the new policies.
Too many communities have been devastated by the effects of poor planning during extreme weather, and part of that blame lies with private entities. However, until such groups are no longer supported by government bodies, recovery will continue to take longer than anyone can reasonably expect.
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