One of the questions New Orleanians have heard most often from outsiders since the 2005 flood is, "Why didn't you all have flood insurance?" The answer bewilders those outsiders: Mortgage holders told homeowners, you're living inside a federal levee system, you don't need flood insurance. When the system proved catastrophically defective, we all saw the result. (Parenthetically, even so pre-K New Orleans had the highest uptake of flood insurance of any city in the nation)
Now comes my old friend Judy Muller (we met during the second O.J. trial) with a piece about the flip side of this problem -- FEMA using defective flood zone maps to force people in various parts of Los Angeles that have never flooded to buy flood insurance or jeopardize their mortgages. One of the anomalies: FEMA discovered that something they thought was a levee in the 1970s turned out to be a raised railroad track, triggering the redefinition of the neighboring streets as flood zone.
FEMA and the Corps of Engineers: partners in progress.