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Life Raft: Could Flood Insurance Sink Us Before The Water Does?

Laura Sanders
This week on Life Raft: flood insurance.

Everyone knows flood insurance isn’t the most exciting topic. What this episode presupposes is: maybe it should be?

It’s not difficult to imagine a future in which climate-change-fueled storms and floods depopulate our coastal communities. Generations of Louisianans have been moving northward for decades, after all.

But could the rising cost of flood insurance actually drive people away sooner? That’s the question we’re exploring this week. We talk to two experts who explain the history of flood insurance in the United States, where the program is headed, and why flood insurance affordability is a political problem.

Rebecca Elliott is an assistant professor of sociology at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Her book is called Underwater: Loss, Flood Insurance, and the Moral Economy of Climate Change in the United States.

Andy Horowitz is an assistant professor of history at Tulane University. His book is called Katrina: A History, 1915-2015.

Do you have a question you want us to explore? Send it to us! There’s a super simple form on our website.

Follow us on social media for bonus pictures and occasional memes. We’re on Instagram,Facebook, and Twitter.

Support for WWNO’s Coastal Desk comes from the Greater New Orleans Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, and listeners like you.

If you like what you hear from Life Raft, consider making a donation to WRKF and WWNO to help keep the show going!

As Coastal Reporter, Travis Lux covers flood protection, coastal restoration, infrastructure, the energy and seafood industries, and the environment. In this role he's reported on everything from pipeline protests in the Atchafalaya swamp, to how shrimpers cope with low prices. He had a big hand in producing the series, New Orleans: Ready Or Not?, which examined how prepared New Orleans is for a future with more extreme weather. In 2017, Travis co-produced two episodes of TriPod: New Orleans at 300 examining New Orleans' historic efforts at flood protection. One episode, NOLA vs Nature: The Other Biggest Flood in New Orleans History, was recognized with awards from the Public Radio News Directors and the New Orleans Press Club. His stories often find a wider audience on national programs, too, like NPR's Morning Edition, WBUR's Here and Now, and WHYY's The Pulse.

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