Community Responses to Flooding in Risk Mitigation Actions: Evidence from the Community Rating System

Though communities damaged by floods routinely take measures to build resilience in the aftermath of flooding disasters, even if those measures are costly or politically fraught, disaster-driven measures are often not enough to protect communities from future floods.



June 18, 2024


Yanjun (Penny) Liao, Simon Sølvsten, and Zachary Whitlock


Working Paper

Reading time

1 minute


This paper studies the impact of disaster experiences on communities’ engagement in risk mitigation actions, focusing on flooding in the United States. We measure risk mitigation actions using communities’ scores in the Community Rating System, an incentive program that scores flood preparedness and mitigation activities and rewards communities with flood insurance premium discounts. Leveraging a panel of communities from 1998 to 2019, we find a significant increase in risk mitigation activities following flood events, in both participation rates and intensity of actions. The effects continue to increase up to 10 years. Communities with greater capacity, particularly those in urban areas, exhibit a much stronger response. The findings highlight the adaptive capacity of communities but also raise several concerns regarding the inefficiency of disaster-driven responses and inequitable outcomes across communities.


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