Floods as Unnatural Disasters

The Role of Law*

Authored by: Sandra B. Zellmer , Christine A. Klein

Water Policy and Planning

Print publication date:  June  2016
Online publication date:  June  2016

Print ISBN: 9781482227970
eBook ISBN: 9781482227987
Adobe ISBN:

10.1201/b19534-23

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Abstract

Flooding is a recurrent hazard, even in the driest of states. Climate change alters flood risks by changing the intensity of precipitation events. Effective policies and laws will need to recognize and respond to the physical and social factors that determine the vulnerability of people and communities to future flood damages. This chapter discusses the major drivers of flood losses, including land use and floodplain management decisions, and considers the distortions caused by public policy choices, focusing primarily on federal flood policies and their unintended consequences. It considers several possible reforms in federal law, including (1) revising the decision-making metrics for the construction of flood control projects; (2) reforming the Fifth Amendment takings doctrine; and (3) recalibrating the National Flood Insurance Program both to keep people out of harm’s way and to place the risks and costs of flooding on those who choose to engage in risky behavior.

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