The coastal areas of United States is at major risk of hurricane, flooding and such natural disasters, destroying private or public property and even taking the lives of the residents living in these areas. Despite this fact, as the Case Study 118 illustrates, U.S. individuals have continued to lift up their houses near the Atlantic shore, increasing the population of the coastal countries with 28% (approximately 153 million people) from 1980 to 2003 (CS 118-3). This situation was significantly encouraged by the U.S. government itself, because, through its legislations it obliged the entire population of United States to pay for the insurances of the states at risk of flooding because of hurricanes.
While this regulation through which U.S. residents from the areas not affected by hurricanes pay for the risk that other residents take to live near the coast subside the insurance policies of the people living on the shores, in the same time it induces an unsustainable exploitation of the coastal areas. Inhabitants from the coastal countries are making efforts to protect their properties against natural disasters, by lifting up bridges, levees, or other man-made devices meant to divert the waters from touching the living areas. These arrangements are made at the cost of the marine flora and fauna, which adjusted to the erosion and are severely endangered by the artificial constructions that harm their natural environment.
For avoiding the increased exploitation of the coastal countries’ shore areas, the government should not have obliged the Americans living in non-coastal countries to pay for the risks of the ones living in these areas. Instead of encouraging the massive constructions in these areas and the housing opportunities by making others pay for the inhabitants’ risks, the government should have created laws through which the inhabitants of the risky areas to be the sole responsible of the risks they take by buying properties in endangered areas. Such regulations would have discouraged the massive populating in those areas, which would have meant lower risks for the natural environment to be endangered. In the same time, inculcating the home owners in the coastal countries in the areas with high risk of flooding to pay the full cost of their insurance policy would have meant fewer lives and properties being exposed to natural disasters.
The Case Study 118 presents another significant consequence of the over exploitation of the coastal areas as living places. The current owners are currently facing a colossal increase in their insurance policy, valuing 10 times their current worth of the annual insurance policy. As such, from an insurance policy valuing $800 per year, the new rates will lift the insurance to $8500 under the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act (CS 118-6). This act affects the ones who built their houses on the areas that were previously exposed to risks, but also those who located their houses outside the endangered areas, but which were later mapped under areas affected by the risk of inundation, due to the rise of the water level.
This act is preventing further exploitation of these areas, discouraging property seekers to buy lands on the coast. Nevertheless, the high increase of the insurance policy puts many current residents in the impossibility of paying for the new insurances and it also hampers the possibility that they could sell their houses. New owners would be reluctant to paying such prices on the insurance policy and this aspect decreases the value of the properties (CS 118-6).
At this point, this situation could be addressed by providing subsidies for the home owners who want to relocate from the coastal areas affected by flooding or hurricanes in other states, not affected by hurricanes and other such natural calamities. The housing issue is still a complex social matter in United States. However, giving the complexity of the natural disasters that damage public and private properties along the coastal states and put immense financial pressures on the government, U.S. government should consider encouraging the relocation of coastal residents. The U.S. government should redirect a part of its subsidies (that are currently covering mostly the public properties affected by natural catastrophes on the U.S. shore) for encouraging the relocation of home owners of coastal states. Instead of re-building their houses annually due to the outcomes of hurricanes or floods, a system should be designed for developing new communities for the flood victims, outside the areas affected by such calamities.
Under strict regulations, new properties in the coastal states should not be built and the government should discourage construction firms as well as property seekers to further maximize these areas as living spaces, arguing the unsustainable living and the severe inundation risk. However, such policy should be implemented gradually. The construction approvals, certificates and insurances should be much expensive and more difficult to be obtained. The property seekers in the coastal states should be fully aware of the risks that they assume, of the insurance package they will have to cover and they should be offered other housing opportunities in areas not affected by hurricanes and flooding.