Last weekend there was flooding to the north, south, east and west of us. One little town, Gays Mills, said it may never recover, as it was completely flooded last August as well. Sadly, to the west of here are many little farms who are trying to practice either sustainable or organic farming. Last year many were wiped out. And organic farmers don't get much insurance money for a failed crop because they don't have as much invested in their resources like genetically modified seed that needs to be repurchased every year, nor in the massive amounts of petroleum based fertilizers our mono-culture corn farmers need. I don't know what's going to happen to the farmers who managed to hang on to this year.
Last year as fires raged out west, a blogger that I read regularly commented that in many of those areas where the fires were destroying homes, the people had no business building there. Often, those areas have been repeatedly ravaged by fires, and developers go in and build and damn the consequences. Except that we all pay higher premiums to cover them.
The news of the past few days showed a very nice young man and his family after their $500,000 dollar home was washed away when the man-made Lake Delton carved a new outlet to the Wisconsin River. He laments that he had no flood insurance.
I don't know his personal situation that well, and he has my sympathy, but there are a few things that ought to be said.
Anyone can buy flood insurance. He said on television that he couldn't because FEMA and his town hadn't come to an agreement on the flood level in his area. If his property were deemed high risk, insurance would be mandatory. His mortgage lender would be legally bound to require it. This man could have estimated that his location between a river that runs through 2/3's of Wisconsin and a man-made lake that's only eight feet deep, might mean he should pick up the insurance. He could have opted to, though it wasn't required.
The other thing is that Lake Delton is a very desirable recreational lake. It has been over-developed for the last thirty years at least, due to its being really close to Milwaukee and Madison. This house was built in 2003 which leads me to believe that for a long, long time it was recognized that the property he built his house on was not stable. I admit to this being a guess, and would gladly claim to be wrong if I am.
It does seem in very many lake communities that regulations are for the poor and people without influence. I've been awestruck by new construction on other lakes that comes far too close to the water's edge, or landscaping that allows for run-off into the lake or riverfront. We do need government. We do need a community to recognize that some things are a bad idea and ought not to be allowed. Otherwise, if every man is for himself please do not cry to me when your house floats away. Laissez-faire is a harsh reality.