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Letter: Spring flooding could add new disaster dimension

Letter: Spring flooding could add new disaster dimension

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Spring floods won’t wait for the coronavirus outbreak to subside. A year after record spring flooding on the Mississippi River, scientists are predicting heightened flood risk in 23 states, including Missouri.

The confluence of spring flooding and the pandemic is a recipe for disaster — especially for already vulnerable communities.

The exponential damage isn’t hard to imagine: flooded roads blocking ambulances, volunteer firefighters hamstrung by social distancing requirements, homeowners who lost their jobs facing costly repairs, dislocation or worse.

As Congress considers additional spending to combat this health crisis, it’s imperative they include natural disaster mitigation and resiliency requirements and funding to ensure hospitals, highways, public utilities and water supplies can withstand increasingly frequent and stronger storms.

This isn’t exactly breaking news in Washington. Efforts to reform the National Flood Insurance Program have been repeatedly delayed — even as the program remains over $20 billion in debt.

One bipartisan proposal aims to reduce the payouts to repeatedly flooded properties, which represent just 1% of the federally backed policies but account for one-third of all the flood program’s claims. Over the past 40 years, those claims amounted to roughly $17 billion.

I urge Missouri’s entire congressional delegation to support HR 5776, the Repeatedly Flooded Communities Preparation Act. While coping with one disaster, let’s not increase our risk of enduring yet another.

Maisah Khan • St. Louis

Missouri Coalition for the Environment

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