Great Issues—Miller Center

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Great Issues: Scholarship in the Public Interest

More from Scott Knowles

Power, Poverty, and Disasters in the United States - Poverty is the largest indicator of vulnerability in disaster situations. However, prior to Hurricane Sandy, there hadn’t been a lot of discussion around the relationship between poverty and flood insurance. Scott Knowles argues for a shift in discourse and policy, whereby we begin to think about flood insurance as part of the social safety net.

Reforming Flood Insurance - In 2012, the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act was passed in an attempt to reform and extend the National Flood Insurance Program. In 2014, the Grimm-Waters Insurance Affordability Act was signed to delay parts of Biggert-Waters. Scott Knowles describes the development of these reforms in the broader context of the changes to flood insurance after Hurricane Katrina.

The Disaster Science Policy Action Gap - There is often a disjuncture, or gap, between the scientific knowledge that exists about the risks we take and the will to create policies that address those risks. Scott Knowles explains that within the last twenty years there has been a widening of this gap.

The Emergence of the National Flood Insurance Program - After World War II, coastal development increased exponentially in the United States, leading to increased prices for flood insurance. Despite decades of attempts to create a subsidized flood insurance policy, it wasn’t until Lyndon Johnson ordered a study into the science of floodplain management that the National Flood Insurance program was launched in 1969. Although it experienced a rocky start, throughout the 1970s and 1980s the demand for flood insurance skyrocketed.

The Role of Policy History - After a disaster occurs, there is often an impetus to learn lessons very quickly. However, Scott Knowles argues that we need to develop a different time scale, focusing instead on a longer memory in the wake of disasters.