"We've got to get around this 'sympathy at all costs' for people who are suffering from natural disasters," Pilkey said.
Witt disagreed. He said, "Should we just walk away and say, 'We're not going to help you'?"
If I were a drunken driver who kept wrecking my car, should there be federal car insurance to make sure I have cheap car insurance?
Witt pointed out that the government did require me to put my house on stilts. That was a good thing because 16 years ago, most of my beach just washed away. It wasn't even a hurricane, just three days of big surf and suddenly I didn't have waterfront property. I was over the water. Still, the house survived because of the stilts, and what a view I had then.
Uncle Sam didn't even raise my insurance premiums. In fact, he spent millions more of your tax dollars to rebuild my beach. Up and down the coast, the Army Corps of Engineers dumped sand on hundreds of beaches.
This seems like a dumb policy too, since a study of replenishment projects found the new sand usually washes away within five years. But the government does it anyway — and you pay for it.
I asked Professor Pilkey what he thought of people like me who build houses on beaches? "I think you're a vandal and extremely costly to our society," he said.
A few years ago, I got a call from a friend. 'Happy New Year,' he said, 'your house is gone.' And it was. During a fairly ordinary storm, the ocean just dug up the sand under the pilings and took the whole house away.
There it was the next day on the front page of the newspaper. I'd always wanted to make front page news, but not like this. It was an upsetting loss for me, but financially, I made out fine. National flood insurance paid for the house and its contents. I could rebuild my house, and the government would insure me again — and again. I didn't rebuild. I'd learned my lesson; I sold what was left of my land. But the outrage is that federal flood insurance exists at all. There is a quarter-million-dollar limit on each payment, and as long as I build my house in accordance with zoning laws and ordinances, there is no limit on how many times the government will pay if a house keeps washing away.
Give Me a Break.