The recent flooding in Midwestern states will have long-term impacts and far reaching effects. The speed at which the storms arrived and the severity of the storms, both trends that have been increasing for decades, left many unprepared for either the immediate impacts or the protracted aftereffects.
While the media will highlight the most visually graphic damage, every natural disaster brings significant challenges that extend beyond the newsworthy images of property destruction:
- Power outages are widespread and and for extended periods.
- Transportation infrastructure are damaged or destroyed beyond use and will dramatically limit the response capabilities of emergency organizations.
- Potable water from both public and private sources will be lost, damaged and/or contaminated.
- No power to a public water systems means reduced or no pressure in the lines which leads to damage and contamination. Public water supplies will have to be tested and the infrastructure repaired.
- Private water wells are dependent on electricity which will likely be out for a long time. Even with the return of power, private well water needs to be tested and, if necessary, decontaminated before use.
As with all natural disasters, potable water is the most important commodity of all. Having potable water in place, and a large supply of it, all the time and always fresh, is the best approach.
Herculean and heroic efforts will be expended by professional and volunteer emergency responders. Salute them and thank them. But their efforts will be hampered by widespread damage to the transportation infrastructure.
A better approach would be to incentivize preparedness for and resilience to recurring natural disasters.
- Electric vehicles are incentivized with $7500 tax CREDIT.
- Solar homes are eligible for a tax credit equal to 30% of the cost of the system with no upper limit.
These impressive tax credits provided by the government offer NO financial benefit to the government.
Let’s apply the same incentive programs to disaster preparation. With potable water being a significant government cost and manpower burden during an emergency, wouldn’t it be prudent to incentivize homeowners/builders to install disaster-ready emergency water systems.
Tax credits would be especially beneficial to those who will typically be the least prepared to withstand the impact and aftereffects of a disaster—those in the lower income brackets and the elderly who are aging in place.
When disaster strikes, the impact is always felt across a much wider swath than shown in the picture of a destroyed home There are always far many more families without potable water than there are destroyed homes.
For the most important commodity of all during a disaster, potable water, perhaps it’s time for a new approach. Lives will be saved, costs reduced, and burdens on our responding agencies lessened.