Monday, June 30, 2008

Floods: Costs and risks are escalating

Attention property/casualty insurers.
From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
If it seems to you that there has been more damage from environmental catastrophes recently — from hurricanes to wildfires to the current flooding — you're right. Direct costs from natural disasters (adjusted for inflation) have been increasing in this country for the last several decades.

Of all natural disasters, though, floods account for more lives lost and more property damage than any other. In the St. Louis region, the risks of flooding have been increasing, and they may get worse.

One reason is that as more land is developed, more soil is covered with pavement and buildings, leaving less ground to absorb rain water. Instead, it runs off into creeks and rivers, increasing flood heights. Also, as researchers in the region have shown, flood stages on the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers are higher than they have been in the past because of physical alterations to the river, such as channelization and the construction of engineering works, including levees. Finally, it is possible that climate change, too, will increase flood events in the Midwest....MORE

HT: Common Tragedies who headlined his post:

and continues:
I’ve been pretty frustrated with the media’s coverage of the recent wave of flooding in the midwest. There’s been plenty of empathy (which is nice) but far too little substance. Specifically, while it may sound coarse, we need to start asking tough questions about how damage from future floods can be contained and how the public burden of this damage can be mitigated. Carolyn Kousky, who will be joining RFF in the fall, has a great article on just that in today’s St. Louis Post Dispatch: