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2018 began with the sad and largely unnecessary death of 21 people and countless animals living in Montecito, California, after an all too predictable debris flow occurred.  For two decades, CURE has questioned the efficacy of allowing more development along the alluvial fans in Southern California, because flood infrastructure built mostly by the Army Corp of Engineers are largely undersized – whether or not a fire occurs.  ~SEE AFTER THE STORM BLOG~  FEMA has been complicit in allowing these homes to be built despite ample evidence that their flood plain maps are outdated and lack the level of protection necessary.  Relying on these federal agencies (who are totally immune from liability) state and local governments permit thousands of homes, schools and critical infrastructure to be built.

Debris flows are not new to Southern California and have been document for nearly a century.  Despite hard evidence that living along the alluvial fan is dangerous, developers and city officials continue to allow homes to be built only to falsely claim – after the storm – that the disaster was unpredictable, historic, and even biblical. That is simply false.

Since only 21 people died, it is doubtful that much if anything will change after Montecito.  Instead, Congress will appropriate billions of dollars the US can ill afford to address the disasters in California, Houston and elsewhere.  Though not all of the damage caused in these recent events could have been avoided, poor land use planning is increasingly acknowledged to be a key factor.  Despite this fact, Congress rarely appropriates monies allowing FEMA to purchase private property to serve as flood buffers and local jurisdictions “cow tow” to developers keen on making a profit along the foothills. -More in the news.

The question is how many more people will have to die before the game changes?

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