Canada Tries a Forceful Message for Flood Victims: Live Someplace Else

As the costs of climate change mount, the country has begun forcing flooded homeowners to move, prompting clashes over what counts as fair.

Comments: 226

  1. How is it a violation of property rights in the US for a private insurer to refuse to issue insurance based on repetitive risk? Even if the insurer is not a private insurer, but the federal government, how is that a property rights violation.

  2. @Paul It's not. I lived in South Florida post-Andrew and ALL the insurance agencies pulled out of our area. We finally were able to get insurance through the government, but it cost us over $1,000/month on a house worth only about $75,000 at the time. Luckily I moved from there to Atlanta 10 years ago.

  3. @Paul Not sure if it is a violation of property rights but it may be a violation whatever law created the flood insurance program. What the government could do regardless if people refuse to stop building in a place is just use eminent domain to buy the land after it gets flooded again and then they can't build there any more.

  4. @Paul The problem they are referring to relates to prohibiting people from rebuilding in certain areas or conditions after a flood. The government can refuse to FUND whatever it chooses to, but placing restrictions on the use of property is tricky and requires fair value compensation (such a prohibition is considering a "taking" of the potential value of the property).

  5. I think I must have been Canadian in a former life. I've thought of offering people cash to move out of, say, small coal towns in West Virginia so they could buy a house someplace with jobs. I'm imagining that 10 years from now, insurance companies will have accomplished the same end as the Canadian system, but both the people who did the smart thing and left as well as the stubborn "hangers-on" will be destitute. Canada rocks.

  6. @Andrew "I've thought of offering people cash to move out of, say, small coal towns in West Virginia" The people who don't leave will probably be the most traditional and conservative ones, the state would probably become "redder", the population might decrease, but West Virginia will still get two Senators.

  7. @Andrew So true, Canada rocks !!

  8. Although difficult for the affected crowd, it is the reasonable thing to do. And the U.S. should follow suit.

  9. This seems extremely appropriate given that most living on the shore are wealthy. As for the poorer people, the Government should subsidize them to move. In Massachusetts we the taxpayers have spent a fortune paying to save the beach houses of the rich and wealthy. Time to change this and make them move taking their losses with them.

  10. @Philip W And their taxable income?

  11. @Carlos R. Rivera, if they have so much taxable income, then let them fund the repairs themselves.

  12. Many of the same people who decry government spending in the U.S. have no qualms about using government money to help rebuild (up to five times so far, in some places!) their own houses when they are time and again damages by completely predictable storms. If only we could be as sensible as the Canadians.

  13. @Max Farthington I always thought it interesting that if you got cancer without insurance in America, you were on your own. Build in a flood plain, get flooded out without insurance and the government pays for your poor judgement - repeatedly.

  14. @Max Farthington, They are called republicans.

  15. Actually this is happening in the USA also. After Sandy hit in 2012, the city of West Haven, CT worked with FEMA and state officials to buy out almost every home in a flood-prone neighborhood across the street from the beach, and the land has been returned to nature as a salt marsh, which creates a home for migratory birds and other wildlife and a buffer against future storms for the homes that do remain in the area. I'm sure there are other examples but this is the one that I am aware of.

  16. This makes perfect sense America has so much land why building in the wrong places?

  17. @Daniel Korb It is true that the US has enormous land resources. However, people on the coasts don't want to move inland to places where there is no ocean. We keep the Great Lakes secret so that they won't move here! LOL. And no one wants to leave the sun for places where it snows and I can't blame them. But we cannot keep rebuilding North Carolina. They have Spring floods and Summer hurricanes. Something has to give.

  18. @Dave -- a fine example of what we should do but I am afraid that, at least for now, it won't be repeated here any time soon.

  19. Does the US bail out (sorry, pun) flooded homes more than once? I thought that home owners had the option of rebuilding once, else using the "rebuild" funds to move elsewhere. This is what seems reasonable to me.

  20. Oh no, the US pays to rebuild over and over and over again. Florida & the Gulf Coast of Mississippi and Alabama are big takers of the taxpayer's money. Most of that taxpayer's money comes from people in other states.

  21. The U.S. government should simply stop issuing flood insurance policies and let the private market handle it setting appropriate rates for the risk. That will solve the "problem" in the US.

  22. @CraigNY Exactly. Subsidized flood insurance paid for by taxpayers must end.

  23. @CraigNY - Unfortunately, stopping flood insurance would cause financial disaster for millions of homeowners and would be politically impossible. I think the Canadian method is the right way.

  24. @CraigNY Yes - let the omnipotent "free market" deal with this issue.

  25. The US government has for too long subsidized people living in areas subject to repeated natural disasters. In fact, though, the US government also subsidizes people to live in places where no jobs exist. If a locale is too often visited by natural disasters, leave. Similarly, if you live in a place where jobs are no longer on offer, leave.

  26. Here in the US, give them one flood. After that, you're on your own. I'm tired of my taxes going to buy people two, three, even four houses because they refuse to leave flood-stricken areas. I feel the same way about Californians in repetitious mudslide and fire-stricken areas. One time is all you get.

  27. @Citizen In most areas, it's not just your taxes that pay for damages from storms, etc., but the ever-escalating insurance payments by the people who own those homes. Maybe the answer is to completely up the ante premium-wise and see how quickly people move!

  28. @Citizen OK, but remember one big wave takes out all of RI

  29. @Citizen why give them any? Why should taxpayers bear the burden for rebuilding? People could pay for it themselves if they bought insurance. If they can't get or can't afford insurance, that's because the risk is too high, and why should the rest of us assume that risk for them?

  30. There was a saying in my civil engineering hydrology class: "Flooding is a natural disaster. Flood damage is a human-caused disaster." With climate change increasing flood intensity and frequency, the US needs to follow Canada's lead.

  31. @Brian However, this statement "Since 2005, the province, Canada’s largest in area, has prohibited building new homes, or rebuilding flood-damaged ones, in the 20-year floodplain — areas with a particularly high risk of inundation" is a bit strange. 20-year flood plain means there's a 5% chance of flooding in any given year. I know of no area in the US that allows new construction in a 100-year flood plain (1% chance of flooding), without raising the structure above the 100-yr flood level.

  32. Why can't our government simply state that if you refuse a buyout, the government will not help with any rebuilding in the future? And that government sponsored flood insurance will not be offered to properties that have been flooded more than once. There is no guarantee that the government has to pay you again and again to rebuild houses if you are uninsured.

  33. @Byron Because there are still developers (well funded ones) who want to build in all that lovely open space, it is so much simpler than building infill development. Ka Ching!

  34. The only responsible way for governments to control the loss of life and property is to put a stop to coastal development and to prevent rebuilding of existing homes once destroyed. For years this approach to limiting/preventing loss of life and property has been widely accepted and still the state and federal governments do nothing to responsibly address the continuing problem. Most people who have experienced a loss of property leran their lessons and live inland. But there are always those who need to learn by doing and it is those people who wind up losing everything. The loss of life in the Bahamas was an inevitable occurrence. I am surprised that it has not happened before now. It is only sheer luck that the islands have avoided disaster up until now. Given that there was no evacuation plan, no where for Bahamians to go, why did the world turn its head to the inevitable disaster that would befall the islanders? The Bahamas should not be rebuilt it. The islanders should be relocated and leave the islands to the elements that will surely take them again and again and again.

  35. @Alabama I understand your sentiment, but the Bahamas are a sovereign nation. Who do you think is going to relocate the citizens and where do you think they will be relocated to? You can't just pack up an entire country and move its citizens somewhere else! Situations like this are going to repeat themselves around the world in places like the Maldives and the Marshal Islands (not to mention Bangladesh) The sad part is that at the Bahamian PM noted, they didn't cause climate change, but they are living with the consequences. Perhaps the US, which is responsible for over 1/3 of historical CO2 emissions, should be responsible for providing the people of the Bahamas with a new home.

  36. @DWes Or perhaps the Bahamas should stop encouraging tourists - 80% of which are from the US (Wikipedia). The carbon foot print of all those planes and cruise ships should be factored into their claims of not causing climate change. From wikipedia: "Tourism alone provides an estimated 51% of the gross domestic product (GDP) and employs about half the Bahamian workforce."

  37. @B Dawson But again - why should one tiny nation, the cause of no significant portion of climate change, bear the burden of total economic collapse for a symbolic (but otherwise ineffective) gesture like forgoing tourism?

  38. This will be the hardest adjustment to make with a changing climate. Accepting the reality that the coast is now 25 miles inland and you can’t go home again.

  39. @JRB. Hard as that is, I’m sure there will be harder adjustments a couple of decades from now.

  40. @JRB Harder than accepting the reality that if you vote republican (who support fossil fuel and coal burning), you are actually part of this problem????

  41. As usual, Canada shows the way. I applaud their fearless insistence on applying common sense to such an obviously non-negotiable issue. Climate change is here. Time for everyone to deal with it. Common Sense #1 is don't build in a flood zone. Common Sense #2 is, the inconvenience of moving households does not compare to the tragic results of ignoring common sense #1.

  42. The United States "which will repeatedly help pay for people to rebuild" is about to learn some painful lessons. What used to be called "100 year storms" because they could be expected to occur only once a century are now happening twice decade. And it's just going to get worse. Very soon, private insurers will no longer cover properties in several parts of the Gulf coast and eastern seaboard. Because they know the probabilities, they know the costs, and their actions are based on numbers, not politics. What the government will do is an open question. There are plenty of people at FEMA and even some in Congress who understand what's happening, and who know what we can't continue to pay to rebuild major cities every few years. They also know that even bigger floods are coming as sea levels rise and weather becomes ever more severe. But the government can make up for losses by printing up more money and running a bigger deficit. Eventually, that won't work. The deficit will become too big, currency will be devalued, the world economy will crash, and then when a hurricane smashes through Florida, people will just have to move. Whether that's in 20 years, or 50, or 100, I don't know, but it will happen.

  43. @Joe M. It's happening in California with fire insurance. Homeowners in parts of California are unable to get homeowner's insurance for fire, which essentially means they can not get a mortgage. We are merely at the tip of a very large iceberg

  44. @Joe M. We had 5 of those"100 year storms" -- in March 2018. Yes. Today, our community it grappling with the concept of moving/removing/abandoning certain coastal infrastructure (read roads, water/sewer mains) because the numbers, the science says that that flooding, the permanent inundation, will begin in 10 years. Really. Will the Federal Gov't help with our dilemma? Not this iteration. But our state government is wisely allocating $$$ to help us try to solve these problems. Meanwhile, I'd say many of us are within hiking/biking distance from Canada. VOTE!

  45. @Joe M. The physical effects of climate change will most likely be very serious before there is any problem with deficit spending.

  46. Unpack the first few sentences. The US government helps restore property lost to flood damage. That is because private insurers will not touch those houses. And what kind of people live right on the seashore? Why, some of the richest people. So, taxpayers subsidize the rebuilding of rich people who chose to live in risky, but beautiful places on the shoreline. More transfer of money from taxpayer to the rich. We could end it, but that would be "too far left".

  47. @gratis Flood insurance covers a lot more than the coast, but I do think they should increase the rates. There is no reason for the government to subsidize flooding risk.

  48. @gratis Some of the richest people in Colorado live in fire hazard zones now, also compliments of climate change. Should we extend your philosophy to them as well?

  49. @B Dawson Unless we magically acquire limitless financial resources for rebuilding homes in rapidly expanding fire and flood prone areas, that probably makes sense at some point down the line. Of course, if the pace and scale of these disasters expands sufficiently, rich folks won't need much convincing to leave.

  50. The Canadian approach that makes sense is that people can rebuild, but only one time, on government disaster relief. After that, they are on their own to find insurance or take the loss if the property floods again. Or they can sell out. Imagine the reduction in disaster costs if people rebuild in a flood zone, and after that - for each and every subsequent owner as well - the plot of land is not subject to any kind of flood relief. Of course, imagine the irate sellers and buyers of beachfront property, who want a lot, but find that it has already been subject to a subsidized rebuild, and therefore any new build is covered by private insurance or private funding, but not FEMA. And that folks, is why we will keep rebuilding private homes in flood zones. Not because we are good people, but because real estate and property interests want to privatize the benefit of ownership while socializing the risk.

  51. ...and don’t forget the lenders who won’t give out mortgages if their investment isn’t backed by flood insurance and is at risk of being either impoverished (the homeowner) or swept away (the banks’ equity in the property).

  52. @Cathy, I, for one taxpayer, am sick and tired of throwing good money after bad!

  53. It's instructive to note that the aspiration "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" in the Declaration of Independence was changed to "life, liberty and property" in the Constitution adopted seven years later. Property ownership has long been subsidized in the United States, unless you were poor and/or a minority, in which case it was often stolen from you by legal or illegal means. The flood insurance program has long been politicized and subsidized, with science often taking a backseat to real estate political contributors. Perhaps Canada's example can help bring some common sense and equity to bear in the US.

  54. We do this some as well with homes that are repeatedly flooded. We should probably do it more and we certainly need to increase the rates we charge for flood insurance so we aren't subsidizing living in flood prone areas.

  55. I applaud Canada's initiative in limiting private residences in flood-prone areas - something the U.S. is extremely reluctant to do. In the U.S., it is not the potential destructiveness of the next flood, or hurricane, but the politics of the situation. Forget the science, engineering, and climate change potential. Half of New Orleans shoud have been permanently made into a recreation area rather than re-built after Katrina, for example. We are wasting vauable resources on the same problem over and over again. In addition, in most locations, the prime real estate is along coastal shoreline. we- in effect are subsidizing the wealthy to the detriment of the rest of us. What is doing the same thing and failing over and over again? Insanity.

  56. My cell phone broke a few months ago and insurance covered it. It cost about $100. Lost the second over Labor Day weekend (my fault) and insurance covered that with the condition I was on my own for a year. I accept those conditions and know if there is another mishap it will cost considerably more money to replace. Why people who have had claims of four or five is quite astounding.

  57. American homeowners in flood-prone areas, even 100-year flood plains, know that their ordinary home-owners insurance policies expressly excludes water damage from the outside. They are told verbally and in writing. They are given the number to call FEMA and buy coverage. Many, if not most, don't buy it. Why should they? FEMA has been stepping in during these now more frequent disasters and providing coverage. FEMA is just about bankrupt because of this and now Republicans are dipping into FEMA's money for the silly wall and other things we can't afford. More disasters are on the way. There should be no FEMA coverage for those refusing to buy policies. And perhaps we should look at refusing to allow rebuilding. I don't know but things are going to get even bumpier on this rollercoaster Republican disaster ride.

  58. @Sandra Kay FEMA should shift from a rebuilding focus to a resettlement focus. The Canadian officials statement about protecting the taxpayer was spot on. We are not heartless people, but bailing out homeowners 3,4,5+ times has to stop.

  59. Depending on where the property is (the flood zone as determined by FEMA) one may not be able to get a mortgage without flood insurance. I suppose that fact is marginally self-limiting—ie those who don’t want to pay the extra $7500 a year in flood insurance premiums (for $250,000 worth of insurance) will buy houses where there is no such requirement.

  60. It is reasonable not to build in endangered areas and it is also common sense not to waste money In firmer Times before insurance nobody would have done it simply by the lack of means so it was a self regulated system nowadays all nonsense is done as Long assomebody else is paying for it.

  61. Why does the US not have more of this common sense legislation? Those who can afford to rebuild time after time could still stay, and this would relieve another burden on US taxpayers.

  62. @Boutros Greed and entitlement by the excessively rich people and corporation that corrupts all else.

  63. Canada has embarked on a sensible approach that we here in the US should adopt.

  64. Thank God! Some sensible reaction to building and rebuilding in flood prone areas. Next let's talk about earthquake zones.

  65. Earthquake zones are not comparable to floodplains. You can predict storms and flooding, you cannot predict earthquakes. In Japan, all buildings are constructed to high standards to withstand typhoons and earthquakes. The same could be done in the US but obviously has not. Houses are destroyed and rebuilt just as cheaply as they were before. Telling someone how to construct their house or commercial building is extremely hard in the hard-headed US.

  66. @fme That's about 2/3 of the US.

  67. In the USA, we keep the problem going by providing subsidized flood insurance. I hope that our government wakes up and takes the same approach as our neighbors in Canada.

  68. All the US has to do is raise FEMA insurance premiums each time a claim is made. That's how regular insurance works, yes? Get in a car accident, your premium goes up. Most insurance premiums are also based on risk. To continue with the auto insurance analogy: live in a city = higher premiums; new driver = higher premiums; get old = higher premiums. It's back door legislation. Make it too expensive for someone to live there and only the people with money to burn will stay. It doesn't infringe on property rights and the government isn't taking anyone's property.

  69. @B Dawson -- I have a better idea: FEMA won't pay for any area that is prone to flooding. Which leaves private insurance. The people who once lived on the beach, for example, will no longer be able to while the ones owning the mega mansions on the beach will. But they will get no longer a taxpayer's handout; now they'll have the pay the big insurance out of their own pocke.t

  70. @B Dawson Only problem with your plan is that the rich can afford the premiums so it would be the rich on waterfront property, everywhere. And, we would still be paying for them.

  71. Decades ago, NYS warned everyone living on waterfront properties that when the building was no longer safe to live in, they would have to leave: Atlantic Ocean, Great South Bay, Long Island Sound, Lake Champlain, and probably Lake Ontario, but I’m not sure. There was panic, some people did their own propping up, but it was generally accepted and life moved on. Every now and then, New York does things right. In 1993, the first infamous 500 year flood covered miles of the Midwest. When the second 500 year flood came the next year, both the Army Corp of Engineers and the Flood Insurance people intervened, and several municipalities in Illinois were asked to consider relocating. I don’t remember much detail, but one entire community moved up on the bluffs, getting together to draw up a new map of their community, and selecting parcels of land so that most were happy. And I’m sure they were v.e.r.y happy when the third 500 year flood came later, and none of them had a worry (or a sandbag to fill). It only makes sense to start the planning now, before the next round of floods reminds us that mere mortals cannot completely control nature.

  72. "...what's fair to our taxpayers..." I don't think i've ever heard that sentiment used in the USA. I've heard "tax dollars shouldn't be used for...." but that's different. We use taxes to subsidize huge corporations, or to subsidize entire industries but not once is this considered from a position of "fairness" to the taxpayer. What a novel idea!

  73. The Alberta example that's given here is intriguing. Who in his right mind would buy a waterfront house in a place called High River?

  74. @witz Don't knock it until you have been there. It is beautiful.

  75. As picturesque and pleasant as some places may be not every place is fit for human habitation.

  76. The GOP commitment to socialism for the rich will block a rational end to welfare for beach home owners. And Democrats cannot win in the Great Plains where they are high and dry while paying taxes to replace beach mansions.

  77. Bottom line: Why is common sense "forceful?" Move or you're on your own, do not expect any further government/taxpayer funded help. Suck it up already and get out. Canada has a ton of territory to move to, it's not like the United States with massive areas of desert not fit to live in. You people living north of the border, you should be thanking God on your knees you don't live here.

  78. @Jan N I don't know that it's any easier to move in Canada than it is in the U.S., but I can tell you that I am grateful, everyday, to be living here and not in the U.S.

  79. @Jan N thanks Jan for your shout out to Canada. I do feel lucky to live in Canada (minus the cold, horseflies and mosquitos). Tough and hardy we are even though we always complain about the weather.

  80. @Jan N How can you not be aware of the massive areas of habitable land in the U.S., fit to live in and not yet fully occupied?

  81. Most of the beach living Americans are too lazy to walk to the beach from a home a few blocks (but potentially safe) away. They want to open their patio door and voila be on the beach. Even original settlers in the 1700s didn't build right on the river/beach front. They knew to be back away from the water edge. We need to bring this intelligent (and selfless) thought back into action. You flood once, you move back from water's edge; go elsewhere or pay for the rebuild yourself. You're wasting government funds that are needed for more important issues than you view of the water.

  82. Westhampton Beach Dune Road, Does the federal flood insurance still cover homes there? Years ago those houses often had to be replaced. Is it the same now? During recent massive California fires and newscast mentioned there were about half 1 million new homes projected to be built in the same area. What is wrong with these pictures? Maybe the Canadians have something.

  83. @Harriet Katz No, that's not true. It's more like 3000 buildings were burned down in the Tubbs and Atlas fires. Fewer in the Paradise fires. And as a note, the government, Fed and State, have literally dictated to those rebuilding, on how they may plant trees on their property. OK? The home owners are NOT just rebuilding a structure. My friend lost four of the buildings on his estate, he built literally with his own hands. Two of them were for his business. He is rebuilding a shell to cover his house completely in the event of a fire in order to reduce the amount of oxygen that would enable a fire to destroy his house again.

  84. that is not my point...they should not be building in such a fragile area. "civilization" sends off sparks so to speak that causes the fires. It is nice your friend built with his own hands etc. but maybe better to rebuild in the decaying cities' areas rather than burn down trees. Do we have to pave over all of nature?

  85. Sensible Canadians. We can learn more than a thing or two from them.

  86. It's a good plan but to make this plan work involves civic mindedness which America does not have. You can see this kind of thinking in Norway and Sweden and, of course, Canada but I don't think Americans can get on board. They just don't get it.

  87. @Diane Gross -- no, here it is: "me, me, me".

  88. Honolulu Los Angeles Phienix Miami New York City New Orleans

  89. @William F Del Mar, CA

  90. Good old fashion common sense. A shame we never did it in place like New Orleans.

  91. @epmeehan -- originally there were plans, but it was not politically feasible, so places like the Nineth ward were rebuilt and they will flood again, and the taxpayers will be on the hook.

  92. @epmeehan The Dutch can safely live 25 feet below sea level - but then they have worked at it for 1000 years The US can not. New Orleans flooded because the faulty design of the sea wall that toppled over before being crested. US Corps of Engineers designed it , clearly not competent in soil mechanics. We could hire the Dutch to make New Orleans safer - but this is not the way things are done in the US

  93. @John OK, John, my Dad worked for the USGS. We, the US, the army and geologists knew for decades, or centuries, that New Orleans was a disaster in waiting due to the levees that would certainly break under the force of a likely hurricane. We in the US knew well what could happen and it did.

  94. We live in N C and I fully support this approach. If people want to build on the coast or in an environmentally risky area let them absorb the full cost and risk of doing so. I don’t owe these people my tax money or insurance subsidies so they can have a million dollar home on the Outer Banks which has artificially low insurance premiums or any government support to help them rebuild multiple times.

  95. @GlennC I basically agree with your position. But remember the severe floods inland in eastern NC Most of the residents in the lower lying flooded areas were poor people who couldn’t afford to live elsewhere. A government plan to buy out and relocate these families is needed

  96. Canada showing the way. Rising sea levels are a reality, like it or not. If you want a waterfront home then you should be on your own in terms of flood insurance and reconstruction. Why should my tax money go to bail out those who recklessly choose to live in a flood area?

  97. @Roberta - In the Sacramento area, just yesterday it was announced that we are using oysters to improve not only the water quality but water levels as they once did, say near Manhattan. In the past there were literally islands or a barrier made of shell fish, a wall, that not only filtered the water, but prevented storm waters from damaging the NYC area. But the residents ate the barrier.

  98. There was a time when US Government used to pick up less than 10% of storm/hurricane damages. Today they pick up nearly 70% of damages. This is tax payer money. Surely we should had some say in whether we should allow people to continue to build in flood prone areas.

  99. Then there's North Carolina whose brilliant State house made it illegal for people to be told the truth about the flood risk now or into the future, at the behest of real estate brokers who saw their livelihood being threatened when people wouldn't but flood prone properties. You can't make this stuff up - literally sink the consumer in every way you can.

  100. @E Campbell. This is one of the most outrageous things I've heard.

  101. Doing something logical? How refreshing! If the communities and local governments don’t make the call to stop building in this areas, insurance companies will shut it down.

  102. The American people are not used to limitations. That’s why Americans infantile reaction to anything that appears constraining like energy efficiency, climate change actions, recycling, public transit, healthy eating, empathy and public goods are generally disdained here. This is changing with the younger generations. The baby boomer generation on the whole is not capable of considering a program such as Canada’s. Give America another generation or two. Too many “base” voters.

  103. Way to go Canada. Always a step ahead of us and yet why just now happening? If we told the wealthy and the poor they can't build in flood plains and right along coastlines, at the government and taxpayers expense to keep rebuilding, then maybe we could do something about our aging infrastructure, build some bullet trains, more chances for more people to get healthcare? The possibilities are endless.

  104. @Peter When you say infrastructure do you mean flood control?

  105. I look at the last picture in the article and can see why some don't want to leave. If I had one of those houses, I'd be very tempted to have it raised 8 or 10 feet and use the area underneath for parking, a patio, or storage. I lived in West Michigan as a kid still miss the lake (Lake Michigan) and that last pic makes my heart ache.

  106. Floodplains are liveable with the proper infrastructure. The backstory to all this here in Canada is that rivers like the St Lawrence and Ottawa have excellent locks and canal systems where it’s advantageous for shipping and commerce. In High River, St Marthe sur la lac, and Gatineau people live/d on unprotected land. Humans will always live waterside. Canadians are just realizing now in this new climate era we better be smarter about it.

  107. @ASnell In Yolo County on the border of Sacramento, many if not many of the weirs have to be rebuilt. We have canals, locks, and rivers, but the levees and the weirs and levees are very expensive and for what ever reason, have to be redesigned and rebuilt. Point is, yes, you can make man-made systems to work with rivers, but those too require high maintenance.

  108. The Québécois are quite motivated to help fellow citizens in times of need or disaster. But they are loathe to see their money wasted. When government provides assistance, there is something about their egalitarian sensibilities that will want to make sure that no one is receiving more than his due in accordance with circumstances. It is also of note that Québec has become the Canadian province with the biggest and most consistant government surplus. Most Canadian provincial budgets bleed deep red.

  109. Ahh capitalism, the ultimate socialist system - getting the people to bail out the wealthy when they run into problems ... over and over again. Canada doesn't have that problem.

  110. I am all for not supporting other people's waterfront dream with my tax money. But then again... what about wildfires? Why should we pay for that? Tornadoes? Hurricanes? Earthquakes? Where and how do we draw the line? This conversation is only just beginning

  111. @Sophie K: Flooding isn't comparable to the other natural disasters, mostly because the primary ingredient is right there as a potential (and possibly annual) cause of flooding. In addition, we now have several years of data showing that certain areas have been flooded more than once *and* that certain areas are far more vulnerable because of climate change. No comparable predictions can be made with regard to areas vulnerable to tornadoes and wildfires. Also, people choose to live near the water -- it's desirable -- but no one chooses to live in areas that might be more vulnerable to wildfires and tornadoes. Finally, neither of those are repeat devastaters.

  112. @Doro Wynant Actually, you are incorrect. California has what are called the "Santa Ana Winds". They are about to arrive, again. And they bring fires again and again to areas of Southern California, but the origin of the fires, is probably, arson.

  113. France has such a program for some time. Disagree with the writers comments on climate change Would be nice to have the climate of N. Carolina up here.

  114. “'We have to go all the way,' Mr. Pedneaud-Jobin said. 'If you ask people to leave, you pay the money that needs to be paid. And you force them to leave.'” That's just common sense - but it makes too much sense for America. For us, what makes sense is to pay for people to rebuild over and over again. We have freedoms that say individual rights supersede the common good. Like lax gun laws that result in outrageous carnage, paying for people to rebuild in a flood plain is the price of freedom.

  115. Yea, my country finally gets it. Now, to put limitations on where folks can build, in flood plains or slide areas. I am tired of paying over and over for these folks to rebuild. Finally, someone gets it. Yea Canada!

  116. FINALLY. Yes, if you want money to rebuild, move to dry ground - no sense throwing money down the drain (literally!)

  117. Typically Canada understands how to deal with major issues. I have another complaint that is only tangentially related, as to remediation of storm damage. We have 5 states on the Gulf Coast, 3 of then, the 3 poorest have a state income tax, the 2 richest, Texas & Florida do not. I would like see the policy be that if a state has no income tax of a reasonable % they would be ineligible for Federal relief. Both of these welfare states boast about no income tax inducing businesses and people to relocate hyping that benefit. Establish an income tax and at least help yourselves to get other taxpayers to contribute.

  118. If only we in the US would learn more from Canada and other countries where pragmatism surpasses dogmatism.

  119. @morphd Sorry to disappoint bud but we still have idiots here building mansions on flood plains and on land susceptible to wildfires.

  120. @John No place is perfect. Speaking of Canada, I just completed a solo driving trip from my home in the Midwest US up to Maine then took the ferry at St John NB to Nova Scotia. Spent nights in Yarmouth, Antigonish then to North Sydney to take Atlantic Vision ferry to Argentia NL. Three nights on Newfoundland (was able to drive up northern peninsula) then to Port aux Basques for ferry back to North Sydney. One night on Prince Edward Island, one night in western New Brunswick then back home via Quebec & Ontario. Got to see lots of beautiful country and listen to multiple Audible books. Approx 5470 mi/8800 km driven. Loved it!

  121. Canada gets called "socialist" by the right but we're really more communitarian on some issues, more democratic socialist on others, and plain pragmatic on most things. Doing the same thing over and over expecting different results is the definition of insanity. Don't build your home on a floodplain.

  122. We must move New York City, probably to Poughkeepsie. The cost will be staggering. But we have no choice.

  123. @Francis McInerney Dutch engineers came to New York to discuss building sea walls as the they do in the Netherlands. Despite Hurricane Sandy’s immense impact, the city has been slow to adopt protective measures that would safeguard residents from future storm-related disasters. A 2018 report that evaluated storm preparation ranked New York 12th out of 16 Eastern coastal states, behind both New Jersey and Connecticut. But on Tuesday, New York finally secured funding to begin addressing that though the Staten Island Levee Project, a $615 million seawall that will be built to withstand a “300 year storm.”

  124. @Agnate This solution is temporary. The entire harbor must be sealed off from the Atlantic. Dealing with Long Island and the Sound will be immensely complex.

  125. seems to me that if people choose to rebuild and live in an area that has repeatably flooded they should be able to do so---ON THIER OWN NICKEL. taxpayers should not be forced to provide the money.

  126. Several comments assume that the people who live near the water are rich people. That is only partly true. There are many poor people and middle-class who live near the water because that land was cheap. Much waterfront property was cheap.

  127. @Thomas Zaslavsky In California, along the coast, whole houses have been condemned in advance of their demise by Code Enforcement. The home owners weep as if a family member has been killed as the demolition teams tear down the precariously situated house.

  128. This is the only answer - heeding the warnings of climate change and NOT spending precious resources on the fool's errand of rebuilding.

  129. The most expensive property in places like Florida, Long Island and Martha's Vineyard are on waterfront. The wealty owners of this property believe strongly in climate change or do they.

  130. Milwaukee has a very progressive system of buying out homes that flood and then adding those properties to the riverfront parkland. There are long fingers of greenery providing wildlife corridors that run deep into the city.

  131. It's changing slowly in the US, as what was essentially a flood insurance subsidy by FEMA is going away. (When buying a house on the Oregon coast about 5 years ago, I was struck by a really innovative one with a gorgeous view of Alsea Bay. My realtor audibly gulped when I asked about it; her response was "if you want to see it, OK, but not until I find out what the insurance costs are." She was right: I would have been paying an additional 50% over my mortgage payment for flood and tsunami insurance that any lender was going to require. (I ultimately bought on higher ground.)

  132. This is the most intelligent and logical solution. Continuing to build and rebuild in areas prone to flooding is actually approaching a level of illogical approaching mental illness. As seas continue to rise and climate change causes more flooding and weather related destruction, logic over emotion is going to become crucial.

  133. I've watched rich people's second homes being rebuilt on Fire Island for years. Once and done. The Canadians have it right.

  134. The key phrase in the article: "Limiting aid after disasters"

  135. A tough but ultimately wise move. Wiser would be for Trudeau to combine this and Canada's commitment to the Paris agreement with additional measures to head off the climate attack in the first place—like, say, NOT approving pipelines that'll boost the economy but kill the people who make the very concept of an economy possible. But under the loser and oil tyrant putin, I'll take what I can get.

  136. So is flood insurance for all more important than [something like] Medicare for all?

  137. This would be a good thing for the GOP to get behind but, unfortunately, they don't believe in climate change.

  138. This story reminds me of a horrific video I once watched: There is a mass of people loitering in a dry river bed. The camera pans upstream and a wall of flood water is roaring toward these people. They hear and see it and scatter, but incredibly, a lot of them ran downstream! They were consumed by the raging flood of watery muddy debris...

  139. This is a tough message but it's the right one, you can't fight mother nature, you can slow her down but in the end she will win.

  140. Bravo, Canada! I'm glad to see people acting intelligently in response to climate change. Spend relatively small amounts to get/keep development away from flood-endangered areas; plan ahead, don't allow building there, etc. So much better than hare-brained planet-girdling schemes to lower world temperatures 1 degree or so in a century by shutting down whole needed industries, requiring worldwide dietary changes (no meat), and other goofy ideas that will only result in economic chaos leaving millions unemployed and on the dole. And not even to mention the impossibility of monitoring compliance and gaining control of the entire world's political structure for enforcement. In America, which political party is pushing these cuckoo ideas?

  141. @Ronald B. Duke You are right. In the Soviet Union, everyone was employed. But they had people paid to push the buttons in every elevator. So the green energy can produce a lot of employment. What it cannot produce is inexpensive, reliable, baseline energy. And the many employed could have been much more productive elsewhere. So the net result will be that the whole US becomes less productive and more poor. That is what happened in the Soviet Union. And now in Venezuela.

  142. It would be climate CHANGE if it had not flooded before the big industrial emissions of the last 50 years. In that case, they would not have been called FLOOD PLAINS. A century ago. According to NOAA, in the last 50 years, as in the 50 years before those and as in the 50 (nonindustrial) years before those, sea levels in Eastern Canada rose by about 3mm/year, i.e. 1/2 ft/50 years. Western Canada lifts, so seas mostly recede there. 1/2 ft is not what a flood plain makes. Sea rise sure won't be stopped by the Green New Deal, since it was happening 150 years ago at the same rate. To go back at the population and industrial levels of 150 years ago is impossible unless you make 90% of the industry and 90% of the population disappear. And then, sea levels would rise STILL at the same rate. See NYC according to NOAA In Quebec waters are RECEDING for 100 years In Vancouver they grew a total of 1 cm in a whole century You don't have to believe me. The only thing you should believe in modern science is the measured data. And if you go to these, at NOAA, you can click on any station around the world. That is ALL the data there is. Anything else is politicians lying. By the way, the measured data, simply by a floater on the sea, is the wiggly blue line.

  143. The article was actually pretty light on any climate panic. Do you understand 1) that Gatineau is on a river so sea level rise is little connected, 2) the concept of a 100-year flood, and 3) that two 100-year floods have occurred in Gatineau since 2017?

  144. @CB "Do you understand the concept of a 100-year flood?" I sure do. Here is how it goes. Take say 3000 US counties, and for each county 5 events, drought, flood, storm, heat, rain. You will get 3000 x 5/100 = 150 times a year a countywide 100 year event. Normally. And 15 times a year a 1000 year event. Normally. So that lets you report every other day a 100 years climate event in SOME county. You can this way scare the statistically challenged that the world is ending. And the guilt prone that it is their fault. And both that if they pay all that will change. PS To understand the statistics better, think about winning the lottery. If you look at the winner AFTER the draw, the chance is 100%. That is what the lottery ads show, the winners. If you choose someone, e.g. you, BEFORE the draw, the chance is very very small. So if you choose the county and the type of event AFTER it happened, the chance of a 100 year events is 100%. If we ask you, @CB, how many 100 years floods have happened to YOUR house in the last year, the answer will very likely be 0. I happen to be a mathematical physicist, QFT, so I work with data.

  145. @novoad Unfortunately you are wrong! A huge difference between the same place getting so called rare flood events too frequently (And similar happenings in many places) and your example of combining all sorts of events into one example is nothing but misleading an already confused population!

  146. What shocking common sense.

  147. Isn't this common sense?

  148. @Beverly Miller No, this is nonsense. There is no reason for anyone who has chosen to live by the beach to have their house rebuilt, even once, by the taxpayer.

  149. Wait! You mean there is government to looks ahead and does the smart thing?

  150. It seems that those who have had homes continually decimated by natural disasters have the responsibility to either rebuild homes to withstand said weather events or move on. The U.S. government should not be in the business of insuring those in well-known disaster zones...especially flood plains. And private insurers should limit the times they will reimburse homeowners for repeat claims in these areas. As someone who owns a coastal property, I do not expect either the U.S. taxpayer or my insurance company to continually bail me out. I’ve chosen to take that risk, have done everything possible to minimize any damage, and take full responsibility for my actions if storms continue to reek havoc. As my millennial kids often say, “ That’s adulting” or “ using your brain.”

  151. @It's About Time As a note, the US government DOES NOT provide back up help for home/business owners in the Sacramento / Yolo County areas - probably Butte and others, but I am not certain. In Yolo and Sacramento, all home owners in real flood zones HAVE TO CARRY FLOOD INSURANCE. And home owners fight it, because they claim that their homes ARE NOT in flood zones. But the government does NOT have people's backs in California, I can tell you that. And when a great earthquake happens all of us are going to lose, and the insurance companies will help out with a fraction of what is really lost. In Iran, and other Muslim countries, no insurance is sold. You plan, you have a back up, you duplicate, and you lose, when and if a disaster happens.

  152. Canada is as right on de-populating floodplains as it is wrong to forbid its residents to own most common firearms. No one has a monopoly on truth and insight. De-populating flood zones saves lives. Disarming civilians promotes genocides, and so puts in lethal peril, millions of lives. It is one thing to build - on a seashore or on a river's banks - a "shack" using framing timbers, plywood sheets, and roofing made of tarpaper. In such a "shack" one can get shelter from the sun or rain, change clothes, and enjoy a meal cooked on a barbecue. If a storm surge or floodwaters wash away such a shack, it is no great loss. Every place that has zoning, should have a map showing areas wherein flood risk might exist. In such areas, no building permit can be issued for any structure that is other than a "shack". No licensed insurance company should be permitted to issue any policy for any structure in such an area. And no public funds may be expended to cover the costs of re-building anything built in such a "prohibited area". If someone wants to buy property "on the beach" or on a river's banks, they should be free to do so. But if anything they build in such a place is destroyed by a storm, the loss is solely on the owner's shoulders. In practice, only the very rich will build all-season homes in "prohibited areas". That's fine. Those, who wish to build or to buy a permanent dwelling" on the beach" or on a river's banks, should do so at their own risk.

  153. Life in Canada seems pretty good—and a lot more safe—despite the lack of guns. In fact, dozens of democracies seem to be doing totally fine without easy access to firearms. How is that possible? Doesn’t America do everything best?

  154. @Jay E. Simkin - I agree with some of your idea about shacks. But this? "Disarming civilians promotes genocides, and so puts in lethal peril, millions of lives." No, it doesn't. Reread the Militia Acts of 1792. They were designed so the armed citizenry could be put to use BY THE PRESIDENT to put down internal insurrections or to fight off invaders. Not so the populace could revolt against the American government. The people who passed the laws were the ones who signed off on an amendment that began: "A well-regulated militia"

  155. @Jay E. Simkin. Canadians simply don’t have the same mentality toward guns as many Americans do. We’re quite happy and secure knowing hand guns and semi automatic weapons are not readily available. And, those Canadians who do carry are required to register their weapon. I don’t personally know of a single person who has a gun or desires to get one.

  156. finally, sanity. Live in a known flood area at your own rick.

  157. Forced and capped buybacks. Federal government (CA) involvement Forfeiture of future help.

  158. @talesofgenji. Although the ideas are similar, a city is a smaller entity. Canada is a country, and it’s policies can affect each province, giving people a one-time choice. Nashville’s program is a voluntary one.

  159. @talesofgenji That is more of the exception. The author uses the example of the Outer Banks, which is a perpetual loop of more building where it shouldn't, of course at taxpayer expense. And serious discussion of New Orleans was ruined by charges of racism and classism when a lot of that territory will be nailed again some day.

  160. The Russian River in California is one of these places with nice homes with a pleasant river-side setting, at least during fair weather. Then the storms hit and the local Member of Congress gets to work badgering FEMA to rebuild. Your taxes at work.

  161. @publicitus Spell it out publicitus - not even the original Russians who settled that area of Northern California lived near the Russian River. They settled more inland. That area is just doomed and should NOT be rebuilt.

  162. News articles about US people heroically rebuilding their homes and their lives in places that should never have been developed make me so sad. But so often these flood, fire, earthquake or slide zones are exactly where building is the most profitable. Builders make their money, and homeowners get to heroically rebuild with public money after the inevitable disaster. Attempts to control building in such areas are often met with developer lawsuits, and communities give in. Canada seems to have a better way.

  163. This sounds incredibly difficult, fraught and just in general, very hard. And yet is so sane. I envy the Canadians.

  164. @Sharon M If the effected Canadians could just move the house - then the imperative can be acted upon.

  165. If you want to live in an area prone to damaging hurricanes and flooding, or low sea level areas that cannot survive extreme weather because you like the view or for some other reason, do so at your own peril and financial expense. Taxpayers should not pay you to rebuild. Get your own insurance and assume the risk.

  166. It’s so easy to say that, but exactly where do you prescribe we all live? Where is the US is free from the risk of natural disaster?

  167. @Summer Smith Where to go that is relatively safe from natural disasters? Pennsylvania, mostly between Pittsburgh and Philly. Tax friendly to seniors to boot.

  168. @Summer Smith Upstate New York

  169. I live in Colorado. My state gets on average 15 inches of precipitation a year. It's semi-arid. Climate Change is making drought more common so we might only 11 or 12 inches of precipitation a year. Yet people still move here. At what point do I move? How many years of drought in a row is going to make the American West uninhabitable? Will it be in the next decade, twenty or thirty years? My life is here. My job is here. But when will it get to a point where I won't be able to sell my house because finally, no one will want to move here because of the lack of water? (No water, no skiing either). Where do I go? Not everyone can fit in the water-rich Great Lakes states.... and who wants all the ticks that go with that? Buckle up, folks. None of us can out-run climate change.

  170. @the quiet one Plenty of affordable property left in Detroit. Population is still in decline. Flint has some real deals on property as well. I could do without mosquitoes, but I haven't ever had an issue with ticks.

  171. @the quiet one But IT IS possible to rebuild the polar ice caps with inventions to deflect the sun's rays, and it IS possible to reduce fossil fuel consumption, and IT IS possible to reduce CO2, and methane gas, through all kinds of actions, but in America, it has to come down as an ORDER.

  172. @the quiet one It is very hard on the people to deal with those disasters and enormous change in their life.But, being be involved since more than 30 years in a CO2 removal project, I have to tell you that we are too late now...We will have to live trough those sad times.God bless you

  173. Referring to the floods in southern Alberta in 2013, not only was Canmore and High River flooded, but so was downtown Calgary and further into the suburbs. Not sure if the population of large city can be moved. As well, the Alberta Government spent a great deal of money on the kananaskis golf course after that flood. By the way - High River is aptly named as the river does get very high and flooding is not uncommon.

  174. @Dana Scully - The YYC flooding was downtown, as you say, however, not a huge population there, but many office buildings. That said, I noticed when there a few weeks ago, the new condo towers being built ever-so-close to the river. Interesting.

  175. Since moving to Canada from the US, I've been greatly impressed with how well run Canadian government generally is.

  176. In America there exists a narcissistic romance with selfish entitlement that increasingly lowers the quality of life for our society in general, one already severely strained by its costs. Not My Problem, people insist- I want my gun, my house in the flood zone, my disaster aid for it; and my SUV, my retirement to be funded by the impoverished young, and so on. Me first. And so we sink, and will sink farther with these attitudes.

  177. What is not clear is if there is such a legal principle as "eminent domain" in Canada. I am guessing from the article that it does not have such a covenant or principle. The other question I have is, what about flood, fire, and other disaster insurance for the homeowners? Here in California, after having two years of catastrophic fires, throughout Northern and Southern California, and at the border of Oregon (Oregon had its own fires in 2017 too), our major energy supplier is in bankruptcy, will not be involved in the delivery of gas as energy - or it will sell that part of the business, cannot compensate for the loss of more than 80 deaths attributable to electrically started fires in the Paradise area, and still has to deal with the huge fires in Santa Rosa and other neighboring towns which destroyed more than 300 homes. And the insurance companies are either dropping fire insurance altogether or doubling the price of fire insurance for many Californians in "fire prone zones". But we have floods - I live in a flood zone - almost all of the Sacramento area, though free of possible earthquakes is a flood zone, and then elsewhere there are extraordinarily horrific killer mudslides, which take lives and houses in a flash. not to mention the imminent earthquakes. California MIGHT become a wasteland if we did not rebuild, as we are always doing it. But to Canada, shouldn't we be collectively working on rebuilding the polar ice caps to prevent the flooding?

  178. certainly canada has the principle of eminent domain. I believe that in Canadian law underlying the notion of land ownership is the principle that the Crown ultimately has final ownership and stewardship of all lands; those lands unowned are Crown Lands, those owned stay permanently in that state but may be taken, with compensation by the Crown. This difference with our southern neighbors has also complicated things like the chronic softwood disputes; our system of allowing logging is represented in the US as a subsidy.

  179. @RR No eminent domain = no taking = no reimbursement by government. Let the market forces do their work

  180. @RR Yes, this concept exists in Canada

  181. One of my grandmother’s best pieces of advice: “Buy on high ground!”

  182. I sold my dream property on Biscayne Bay in Miami 3 years ago because of raising tides and water scarcity. I love the city and miss it terribly, but the consequences of climate change are undeniable (except for the delusional) and irreversible. I’m buying an apartment in Manhattan now and my number one criterion is that it is well away from flood zones and flood evacuation zones. In a storm the magnitude of Sandy, everyone on the island will be adversely effected, but I am betting that my building won’t be made uninhabitable. There are so many unpredictable and uncontrollable variables to consider when choosing where to live, such as the risk of terrorist attack (highly unlikely) or the probability of having noisy neighbors (much more likely), why ignore the known and statistically certain risks? The time will come when real estate agents are required to disclose flood risk - until that time, buyer beware.

  183. I am generally not one of those Americans who constantly praise other nations at the expense of their own, but Canada does seem to act in a more commonsensical way than America does. whether it is health care or the way it is helping these people to move to higher ground,Canada sees a problem and acts on doesn't take a hundred years to acts.our so called leaders have a lot to learn from our neighbor to the north. if only it wasn't so cold!

  184. @Frank "[We] have a lot to learn from our neighbor to the north. if only it wasn't so cold!" . 1. Who says that Canada wants a bunch of Americans immigrating to Canada? 2. It won't be very cold there for long...

  185. In looking at the comments by many Americans on this string, it seems they are just looking at--no surprise--the individual and her/his option. What all of this tells me is that our governments--local, state and Federal--are going to have to set limits, and ENFORCE them. We need to come together to decide collectively what acceptable limits are for each jurisdiction--if you leave this to politicians, you'll get rich folks to buy access, and we all know how well that has worked. This is going to require a MASSIVE cultural shift in our country, because as everyone knows, there are not supposed to be any limits on Americans as long as they can pay for it. Pick the desert in Central Arizona, where I'm from originally. It cannot naturally support 6 M+ people in the Phoenix area, plus their golf courses. They do it because of air conditioning, and many people live in a/c homes, cars, and shopping malls. But a/c is dependent on water from the Colorado River, which is dependent on snow fall on the western side of the Rockies, and weather patterns are changing & Lake Mead, for one, is under 40% of capacity. What's going to happen when they can't run the turbines to create electricity because of insufficient water...? Most people cannot survive in that heat without a/c. Maybe we need to think of stopping problems BEFORE they develop, as climate change is showing they will do. Take "development" out of profiteers' hands NOW! We can live or we can profit--we cannot do both!

  186. @Kim ScipesI believe that the "mighty" Colorado does not reach the sea any more, due to the level of abstracti ons..

  187. "The American approach “is much more generous to the property owner,” Dr. Phillips said. For example, a couple in New Jersey were awarded $330,000 this year after the government built protective dunes on beachfront property after Hurricane Sandy, on the grounds that those dunes hurt their ocean view." What insanity. The taxpayer pays for having the dunes erected to protect property prone to damage. The taxpayer foots the bill for subsidized insurance that will pay for damage to that property AND the taxpayer is hit with a bill for ''damages" BECAUSE dunes were erected to protect the property and minimize losses?!?! Only in America. If you insist on building in flood prone areas you should bear the risk and the cost yourself. You are 'entitled' to do so but you are NOT entitled to government bailouts. We took vacations on the Outer Banks for a few summers, renting a house built on 16 foot columns. I vividly recall seeing a motel where the first room was 12. All lower numbers had been swept away by storms over the years.

  188. @cynicalskeptic — this is why I don't vacation down on the NC coast any more. I just see damage everywhere: natural forests ripped out to build homes (the forests hold down the sand of these fragile islands), nonnative species in the house plots, "hardening" of the coastline, trucked in "beach replenishment" sand, expensive sand-removal from roads after storms, dredging of inlets, etc. We in inland NC are subsidizing the tourist industry out east, wealthy second home owners, and property developers.

  189. "Unlike the United States, which will repeatedly help pay for people to rebuild in place" Generally, the US requires people to rebuild in place, paying for repairs with proof of the cost of them. Even if it did not, the land could not be sold for enough to buy new land on which to build. Insurance on the structure damage alone won't cover it.

  190. Here is a thought; why not, in the first lace, build houses with concrete basements, brick foundations and walls? There seem to be in the US and some provinces in Canada, houses built with wooden frames, no basement and generally, cheap, light, materials. It goes without saying that these structures cannot survive floods, hurricanes or other natural disasters. I understand that in many cases it is a financial issue - who can afford a properly built, brick house? But in the long run, these houses survive better and longer. On the other hand, I applaud the decision to buy the people in flooded areas out and have them move elsewhere, since there really is no point in living in a repeatedly flood prone area.

  191. @Anne, the best type of home and foundation construction varies by region, climate, and specific natural threat. Homes must meet the minimum standards set by state and local building codes which factor in such elements. Many older homes meet the code requirements for when they were built, but as codes become more strict and are reissued every 3 years, do not meet the current codes. Would you require them to tear down and rebuild every time the code is reissued?

  192. @Anne You've obviously never lived through an earthquake. I'd take a wooden house over brick any day. It depends on location. Also, how does a concrete basement help in a flood?

  193. My thought isn o more coal, oil, gas, methane or pollutants should be mined, drilled or used anywhere on the planet and to take drastic steps to reverse the destruction of planet Earth. People, it may already be too late to save the planet from mass extinction, include man, the invasive species causing the seas to rise and ice across the world to melt. So man gets to continue to march to extinction without a whisper or heed that no life will exist when food does not grow, trees are scorched and earth covered in water.

  194. I live in a wooded fire prone area. I have done everything (and much more) that my insurer has asked to mitigate the danger. Not so my neighbors, which puts me at some risk. I'd love to see a little government intervention, here.

  195. I don’t understand the logic of rebuilding in flood prone areas and having the government underwrite a percentage of the cost. Essentially, all taxpayers have an interest in these homes but not the right to use them.

  196. As an American living in Christchurch, New Zealand, this is exactly what happened to most of my neighborhood following the 2010-11 earthquakes. The land along the Avon River sunk a full meter and is now prone to flooding. Other land was deemed to risky to rebuild on due to it being prone to liquefaction in another quake. There was a big buyout and whole neighborhoods were demolished. It was very hard on a lot of residents, but I'm not sure it was much harder than on those who were not placed in the "red zone" and had to deal with years of fighting with insurers. We ourselves were relatively lucky in that our damage was not excessive and our land was deemed okay. While I am glad of this, if I had been in the position of dealing with a rebuild or a buyout, I think I may have taken the buyout.

  197. America will proceed haphazardly, with some States doing the smart thing and following Canada’s model. In the Outer Banks near me, which I refer to as “suburbia by the sea,” North Carolina and the climate-change denying Feds will make a futile stand. Again and again, until something like what just occurred in the Bahamas happens.

  198. This is a correct & sensible approach. If you choose to build/rebuild/or live in a flood zone you do so at your own risk or that of the flood insurance you pay for. Public money will assist your relocating but will not act as an insurer of last resort. The single caveat is the flood-zone maps must be accurate and up-to-date.

  199. Well . . . since both the US and Canadian federal governments subsidize oil companies, it seems only sensible that both these governments buy out homeowners at current market rates BEFORE the particular flood that prompts the action. Perhaps the money could come from cutting the oil subsidies. Yes, the price of gas and diesel would go up, but the pain would be spread around at a cheaper rate than the current inequitable subsidy system.

  200. @WalteCutting the subsidies would cause much higher prices only if it reduced the expansion of distribution capacity. In Canada, it would undoubtedly raise prices a lot. In America, where the market is much more competitive, not so much. So long, that is, as a government committed to maintaining competition and fighting corporate collusion is put in place.

  201. The US government doesn’t give individual home owners all that much money to rebuild. And these disasters are among the very few instances in which insurance companies actually have to pay. Like so many ideas, the Canadians are way ahead of us on this one. I would point out that people living in beach communities, along the shores of the Great Lakes and on rivers’ edge are usually better off financially than most of us to begin with. It’s those usually rural areas on the way to the shore that house poor people in already substandard housing or close to it. Moving them out would help change their lives. But this is America, so don’t hold your breath.

  202. I just love Canadian rationality and pragmatism. It just makes sense. Kiss the Caribbean goodbye. Au revoir to the southeast coast in the US. These hurricanes are here to stay (and likely get worse) because we are doing nothing about global warming.

  203. Yet another area where Canadians are wiser, this must be embarrassing to their southern neighbours; add this to the list of: health care, low gun violence and crime, retirement, etc.

  204. I guess this means everyone living on the Gulf Coast and East Coast (i.e., in the path of hurricanes) needs to relocate and rebuild on higher ground away from the coasts. I mean, it was really stupid of anyone to settle and build in these areas because hurricanes have been around for centuries; we obviously should have known better. Ditto for those living on or near earthquake or fault zones, and river flood zones. And who is going to pay for this, and how? Some enterprising reporter should calculate the cost of relocating all those living in the hazard zones noted above; much more than Medicaid for All, free college tuition and reparations put together, I suspect.

  205. @Mon Ray Leaving, once, will cost far less than rebuilding repeatedly.

  206. @Lydia M. Yes, but leave where, and move to where? Presumably San Francisco should be abandoned and demolished, and Los Angeles, because of possible earthquakes. No one should live on the Oklahoma plains, lest they risk their homes being destroyed by tornadoes. Nantucket will eventually wash away, so no one should live there, nor on most of Cape Cod. But they should not move to much of Vermont, where inland flooding has caused great damage in recent years. The southwest cannot sustain its water needs, so folks should move out of that region. New York City is at high risk of sea level rise, so we should have most of Manhattan pack up and go … yet not to their Florida condos, because we need to write off that state too.

  207. Canada, and esp Quebec, sees the future and responds accordingly. When will that happen in the US? Ever?

  208. Simplre, straightforward, intelligence-based. The approach to resettling people who were somehow duped into buying a property vulnerable to natural disaster is one that is admirable and one that could for those reasons never work in the USA. The land of greed and stupidity will see billions of the little people's revenue poured out to reconstruct places like Ocracoke, NC that should be abandoned.

  209. The definition of crazy is to do the same thing and expect different reults. Another way to say rebuilding in flood prone zones is nuts.

  210. @Harris silver Taxpayers picking up the tab for millionaires is worse than nuts, it is normal for this country.

  211. The sheer stupidity of not only building, but rebuilding, in a flood plain is a cost that should only be borne by the fools that do so. As the coastal and river flood plains become ever more vulnerable to climate change, developers and homeowners who insist on living there should not be able to foist the costs of their bad decisions on taxpayers. For those who have availed themselves of government-sponsored insurance programs (and their unrealistic premiums), give them their payout, let them do with it what they will, but make clear that the programs are no longer available to them and are going to be discontinued. You want to rebuild in the same place? Find private insurance to cover your risk.

  212. I think this is fantastic - disaster assistance for home owners has a feel like a wealth transfer. For example, when someone builds an ocean front home and its hit by storm surge and then the government bails them out. I don't think households in the bottom half based on earnings are owning beach front houses.

  213. @Tom " don't think households in the bottom half based on earnings are owning beach front houses." but you are wrong in that thought. The coastal barrier islands are chock full of regular people who live there. The coasts of FLorida, Texas and Georgia are mostly inhabited by people of middle class incomes. It is nice to pontificate that only the Elite have beach homes but it is flat out hyperbole and incorrect.

  214. Where I live in France, the policy is that any property consciously built in a flood zone (since the 1970s) which then is flooded may NOT be rebuilt as before - and notaries will not sign off on sales and loans for such projects. Also - a town just downriver on the Seine, following the past few years' flooding, is buying out properties in the flood zone. This is simple good sense, and also responsible protection of both the environment and of the population ... and will doubtless become more and more necessary with climate change.

  215. Back in the ancient 1970s, Illinois Governor Richard Ogilvie got tired of paying to rebuild farms devastated by floods and financed the removal of such farms with positive results. Sounds like a good idea.

  216. How many tax dollars were spent rebuilding New Orleans after Katrina, including new levies, a City under sea level? Made no sense then, or now.

  217. @Me Worse. Louisiana gets hit worse because of the devastation that the oil companies did to the environment. What do the oil companies pay for their destruction? Nothing. Taxpayers subsidize the costs. Privatize profits, socialize costs.

  218. And all those levies, dams and concrete channels exacerbate the problem by decreasing downstream sediment thereby eroding the coastline further.

  219. In the U.S., national flood plain insurance all but guarantees that people will continue to build or rebuild where it has flooded for decades if not centuries. It is particularly galling that my taxes pay to rebuild the billionaires' palaces on the barrier beaches of the east coast.

  220. TIMES, please keep reporting on this. We taxpayers are owed continuous news coverage to stop the outflow of tax dollars to the most selfish among us, taking these funds away from infrastructure reconstructions that would benefit us all. Please keep beating this drum until more and more people realize what is going on.

  221. I have been thinking for years why do we keep allowing developers to build communities along rivers that flood every year, beach homes that are blown away. Then there is the hauling in of sand to rebuild beaches that get washed out to sea every year. Insanity.

  222. Actually there are much more extreme and earlier examples of this in Canada. After Hurricane Hazel in the 1950s killed people living in ravines, the government expropriated the land, forbade people from rebuilding in simmilar areas, and created the conservation authorities to manage and protect the watersheds

  223. Canada's approach is the start of a world-wide inevitable wave (pun-intended).

  224. @Rethinking I think the Netherlands has you beat.