Records at FEMA, which operates the program, show that nearly 37,000 properties from the Carolinas to California have repeatedly flooded and been rebuilt – some dozens of times – with help from a federal insurance program that is, itself, financially underwater. "About 18,000 of those are currently covered by policies, and 15,000 of those haven’t taken voluntary steps to reduce the risk of future damage to their property", FEMA said this week.
Last year was the 40-year-old flood program’s second-worst, with more than $10 billion in claims, following hits from Hurricanes Harvey in Texas and Maria in Puerto Rico. Annual losses have risen and fallen with the weather since a record in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina swamped the Gulf Coast and triggered more than $16 billion in payouts.
Some critics say the situation will only worsen as global climate change generates more extreme weather and raises ocean levels. The properties that have suffered severe and repetitive losses “are the canary in the coal mine for the millions of properties in the U.S. that are going to be in the exact same situation in future decades,” said Rob Moore, water and climate director at the Natural Resources Defense Council.
The environmental group favors FEMA giving homeowners more financial help to move to higher ground rather than rebuilding flooded properties over and over.
With more than 5 million policies, the nation’s main source of flood insurance generated $4.3 billion in annual premiums in 2016 and paid claims of at least $3.7 billion, the Congressional Budget Office reported last year. The median cost of a year of residential coverage was $520 that year.
The federal coverage is available to homeowners, renters and business owners if their community adopts required flood-plain management measures, such as elevating buildings and preventing construction on land where water drains away.
As of May, the 10 states with the most repeatedly flooded insured properties follow the Gulf and East Coasts as far north as New York, but also include Missouri along the Mississippi River, according to FEMA data provided to the Natural Resources Defense Council after the group said it sued the agency three years ago. The group gave the data to The Associated Press.
Louisiana has had the most repeatedly flooded properties over the past 40 years, with 23 percent of the total, the FEMA records show. That includes two single-family homes in Slidell and New Orleans that have each been compensated for flood losses two dozen times.
When Hurricane Florence poured up to 30 inches (75 centimeters) of rain onto eastern North Carolina in September, towns along rivers and sounds were swamped again. They included Belhaven and Washington, which lead the state in the number of severe, repeatedly flooded properties.
Wall Fabrics We Use Are Designed For Falling Rain Not Rising Water
In flood regions, what is attacking sustainable is fabric that does not defend rising flood water, only falling rain. Rising water and floods are hurting our FEMA government funding and our insurance industry. Until we make all builders use coatings up to the windows sills, homes will continue to flood. We will continue to mount more flood loss just like we are doing in the western regions in wild fires if we do not address this problem.