As a building and zoning director, every year I’m concerned to see Illinois communities devastated by severe weather and flooding. It destroys our homes, businesses, schools and hospitals. In fact, flooding is now the costliest and most frequent natural disaster we face.
As floods worsen, we’re going to need stronger infrastructure to keep us safe. A recent Pew poll found an overwhelming 85 percent of Americans want federally-funded projects located in flood-prone areas to be built to stronger standards.
Congress is behind the curve and needs to enact tougher building standards to meet future flood risk, especially where public dollars are being spent. Buildings should be elevated, roads should be out of the flood way, culverts and sewers need to handle larger rainfalls, and critical infrastructure like hospitals, fire stations and electrical substations have to be protected when floodwaters being to rise.
Research shows that every dollar spent on exceeding current building codes to better withstand flooding saves taxpayer money in the long run. It also creates more jobs, ensures faster economic recovery following a disaster, and reduces hardships for communities who may already be struggling.
Congress needs to act now to require federal investments in flood-prone areas be more resilient to future risks, including flooding and severe weather. Without action, we remain vulnerable and are putting people’s property, lives as well as the whole communities at risk. We simply cannot afford to allow this pattern to continue.
Dallas W. Alley