Hurricane Florence a Reminder of Flood Insurance Reforms Stalled in Congress


U.S. taxpayers who spent billions of dollars after a trifecta of hurricanes last year are poised to do so again after a fix to the nation’s troubled flood insurance program remains stalled in Congress — and as a dangerous new storm barrels toward the southern Atlantic coast.

The program, administered through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is the primary source of flood insurance in the U.S., with about 5 million policy holders across the country. But it remains more than $20 billion in debt and some experts say it must be reformed in an era of very powerful storms like Harvey and Irma.
“They are not interested in the gorilla in a proactive way to deal with such disasters,” says Rob Moore, a senior policy analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “A large part of the reaction the US has given to natural philosophy is entirely reactionary, and after that, we make some money.”

During the storm season of 2018, as Hurricane Florence strengthened in the Atlantic Ocean, discussions gained a great urgency. With a Category 4 hurricane announced on Monday, Florence targeted a wide range of southeastern US coasts from South Carolina to Maryland. In almost 30 years it has become the most powerful hurricane to threaten Carolinas and has already demanded extensive evacuation.

Instead of paying for rebuilding, Moore said the Congress should direct FEMA to provide more help to resettle residents from places vulnerable to sell. strengthen and upgrade the less exposed features of the wind and water; and other mitigation efforts.

The Congress has donated $ 16 billion in debt accrued by the National Flood Insurance Program, but spent $ 120 billion on the wake of last year’s hurricanes and forest fires.

Moore said that losses will continue until a 50-year program stops paying to rebuild homes that are called five times – severe repeated loss features – and make other changes.

Home bill
Household legislation passed in November last month will start to do some of these revisions, and FEMA has to build communities to tell homes if they have been inundated before and to minimize the flood risk.
The bill will help low-income families expand the opportunities for private insurers to sell policies that will change policyholders’ premiums and surcharges, which will limit future coverage and reductions for high-risk properties, and the 21st Century Flood Reform Act (HR 2874). and grant funding for flood relief aid.

However, the Senate has not acted on the measure yet. Congress has expanded the flood insurance scheme seven times without replacing it seven years ago, with the latest expansion scheduled for November 30th.

Until then, the Hurricane will know the seriousness of Florence. The end of the rainy season and the storm eventually leads to a flood risk, according to James Belanger, a senior meteorologist at Weather Company, a division of IBM. Belanger said in an interview that the current orbit is “the worst case scenario for rain and flood impacts in the central part of North Carolina and Virginia.”

Despite the fact that there are more than 444,000 NFIP policies in effect in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, the vast majority of these policies are for property located in Special Flood Hazard Areas on the NFIP Flood Insurance Map. Mapped flood plains were found in saddle-prone areas outside the North American capital, Willis Towers Watson, science and policy chief Samantha Medlock, in an e-mail.

The minister says that many family members will suffer without insurance because the standard home insurance policies do not cover flood damage.

FEMA’s public affairs office did not respond to e-mails asking for comments.

The National Flood Insurance Program now has about $ 10 billion in borrowing authority and Hurricane Florence is unlikely to consume all of the funding, R.J. Lehmann is director of finance, insurance and trade policy for Washington’s think tank R Street Institute.

“They are ready to handle this storm,” Lehmann said. “But if there are more than one storm – there are others in the Atlantic Basin – things can be a little bit more dicey.”

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