The Sandy Supplemental by the Numbers

The amount of federal spending on disaster aid has been growing over time. Hurricane Sandy resulted in an enormous level of supplemental appropriations. For perspective, we compared the Sandy supplemental appropriation, more than $50 billion, with the 2012 federal outlays by agency, excluding entitlement programs, military spending, and debt payments, as shown in Figure 1. […]

Making Flood Insurance Affordable

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) found itself floundering in debt after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, sparking a legislative push to overhaul it. The result was a risk-based pricing plan under the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act, signed by the president last July after passing with wide bipartisan support. But recently, questions about […]

How Much Do Weather-related Disasters Cost?

Climate scientists predict many weather-related extreme events may be changing in frequency or intensity as the climate warms, or their location, timing, and duration may be changing.  The public also perceives a trend toward more extreme events which they pin on climate change: a 2012 poll of U.S. residents by researchers at Yale found that, […]

Climate-Ready Coastal Development? A Model from Pelican Bay, Florida

Americans love the coast.  We live there.  We vacation there.  Coastal areas generate substantial economic activity.  But building on the coast is risky—storms and sea level rise threaten coastal development.  Is there a model of development that allows us to enjoy all the ocean has to offer and yet reduces the risks from these hazards? […]

Sandy’s Unaccounted-for Costs

Hurricane Sandy and the system it is merging with are predicted to cause substantial damage across the mid-Atlantic. Damages from climate-related disasters, like this one, are on the rise, both within the US and worldwide. This is due in large part to more people, and therefore more buildings, locating in risky areas. It is also […]

NFIP Reform Passes


After years of discussion, Congress finally passed some important reform measures for the troubled National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The NFIP is a federal program that makes flood insurance available in participating communities. Today, there are over 5.5 million NFIP policies nationwide representing over $1.2 trillion in coverage. The NFIP is currently struggling under a […]

RFF Policy Commentary: How Generous Is Post-flood Disaster Aid?

Do people have unreasonable expectations about federal aid when disaster strikes? In the latest RFF Policy Commentary, RFF experts Carolyn Kousky and Leonard Shabman look at federal aid after flood events. They hypothesize that property owners may underinvest in insurance, incorrectly believing federal aid will cover their losses. This raises important questions about aid programs, flood insurance, and public […]

The Ins and Outs of the NFIP

If you want to get up to speed on the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), it’s hard to do better than RFF’s Carolyn Kousky.  You can watch her giving CSPAN viewers the rundown on it here.

Adapting U.S. Flood Insurance Policy To Climate Change

In the wake of historic flooding in the Lower Mississippi River, the House Financial Services Committee approved a bill on Friday that would raise insurance rates from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to better reflect actual flooding risks, what some are saying is an important step to adapt the NFIP to the effects of […]