Lack of Popularity of Flood Insurance as a Model of Sustainable Floodplain Management in La Crosse, Wisconsin, USA
Contrary to an assumption that the United States Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is a model for sustainable floodplain management, this study found that the respondents of a pilot survey in La Crosse, Wisconsin, situated on the Mississippi, preferred upgrading flood control levees (mean Likert scale score: 4.06), compared to such semi-structural and non-structural measures as flood-proofing (mean scores: 1.94—2.15) and relocation (2.26). Among non-structural measures, the respondents disapproved several provisions of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP): nearly two-thirds stated that they had to purchase flood insurance as a mortgage requirement, another one-half contended that the premium was too high, only one-third had purchased flood insurance voluntarily, and 12% asserted that flood insurance was unnecessary for their property because it had never flooded before. In contrast, the content analysis of The La Crosse Tribune discourse on flood problems, published between 1931 and 2005, indicated that although three-quarters of its flood reports were on routine events, nearly one-half of the Tribune column space for floods was on flood alleviation, emphasizing significantly more on non-structural than on structural measures. The study recommends follow-up research to explore the underlying causes of such disapproval of the NFIP by floodplain residents, especially in the contexts of their understanding of the principles of flood risk mapping for flood insurance and the role of the La Crosse Tribune articles in improving their understanding of these issues.
Keywords: Sustainable Floodplain Management, Mississippi Floods, Newspaper Discourse, Flood Alleviation Measures, Flood Insurance
Prof. Harun Rashid
Professor, Department of Geography and Earth Science, university of Wisconsin-La Crosse