Pay heed to what nature is telling us
But billions of dollars' worth of private and public infrastructure is being destroyed. Since low-lying coastal cities are not likely to pick up and move inland, they are going to need new natural or artificial barriers to protect against storm surge (which might have been the big problem with Harvey, but wasn't) and high-capacity drainage systems to alleviate flooding (which was).
Such projects are hugely expensive -- but cheaper than repairing the damage from a citywide flood.
Also, the nation needs a sustainable way of providing flood insurance to those living in vulnerable areas. The current National Flood Insurance Program charges rates that do not nearly cover its outlays, and for years it relied on out-of-date maps that did not accurately show flood risks.
Buildings, meanwhile, can be made more flood-proof. President Obama signed an executive order requiring builders who receive federal funds for a project to account for the risk of flooding in their construction plans. Trump rescinded the measure, saying it was "job-killing." How many people went to work in Houston today?
Folks, nature is telling us something. How many "100-year" storms or "1,000-year" floods will it take for us to listen?
Eugene Robinson's email address is email@example.com.
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