What Do Taxpayers Owe People Who Build In Flood Zones?

Recent photo of Crooked Lake looking east from U.S. 27

As we all await the results of the rainfall caused by Hurricane Dorian on an already waterlogged Florida landscape, perhaps some public policy discussions will flow along with the flood water.
There has been a lot of press attention to the flooding in many parts of the state. In our area this has included the floodplain along the Peace River, which has primarily affected  recreational areas, and a low-lying corner of Crooked Lake in eastern Polk County that has affected a handful of homeowners..
Those affected homeowners demanded county officials open a private drainage canal to drop the lake’s level, though the effect was probably limited because of continued rain appears to be filling the lake as quickly as the canal can empty it.
This is a large lake where lowering the level even an inch involves moving hundreds of millions of gallons of water somewhere with the hope that it doesn’t simply transfer the flooding problem from one lake to another.
The public policy question is how much taxpayer-funded assistance should be granted to homeowners who should already have taxpayer-subsidized flood insurance. That insurance will reimburse them for damage until the damage recurs too often and then the program will solve the flooding problem by simply buying their houses and demolishing them.
Alternatively the County Commission could set up a special assessment district, just as it did for a couple of isolated areas that were threatened with flooding during the 1997-98 El Nino, and let the affected private property owners  pay for their own flood control.
It seems the county’s taxpayer-funded efforts should be remain focused on protecting public infrastructure.

Posted in Group Conservation Issues.