Recovery Reveals Major Issues After H. Harvey in TX

From a business insurance source: Harvey damage illustrates need for disaster preparedness: Study. Excerpts:

Hurricane Harvey served as a stark wake-up call about the need to enhance flood resilience, including limiting or preventing federal insurance coverage of new properties in flood zones, according to a study released Thursday.

Harvey made landfall near Rockport, Texas, on Aug. 25, 2017, as a Category 4 storm and dropped more than 40 inches of rain over the next four days, causing catastrophic flooding. Total economic damage from the hurricane is estimated at $125 billion, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office for Coastal Management, making it the second-costliest tropical cyclone on record after Hurricane Katrina.

But only a small fraction of these Harvey losses, about $19.4 billion, were insured, including $8.4 billion in flood losses insured by the National Flood Insurance Program, $2.7 billion in insured vehicle losses, $4.9 billion in insured commercial losses and $3.4 billion in other losses, according to a Post-Event Review Capability study on the Houston floods resulting from Harvey conducted by Zurich Insurance Group Ltd., ISET-International — a nonprofit organization committed to building resilience — and the American Red Cross Global Disaster Preparedness Center.

After the Flood: Ellicott City, MD.

Historic town suffered it second 1,000 year flood in two years. See:  Do You return After Another 1000 year Flood? Some excerpts from the article about the rebuilding efforts there for the past two years:

Funding for water infrastructure programs finally did come through, just three weeks ago, with a little more than $1 million for flood-mitigation in Ellicott City from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

But that will barely get the front-end loaders cranking on a project that’s a $10 million event — for openers.

The planning folks warned everyone this would happen. They issued a 2014 report that detailed what needed to be done to tame those raging waters. And nothing happened. Then, after the 2016 flood, the report was rebooted last June as the “Ellicott City Hydrology/Hydraulic Study and Concept Mitigation Analysis. Conclusion: “The nature and scope of such improvements is significant in scope, impact and cost. It will require a long term planning and implementation effort.”

Levees on MS River

Artificial levees on Mississippi River dramatically increased extreme floods

A new study has revealed for the first time the last 500-year flood history of the Mississippi River. It shows a dramatic rise in the size and frequency of extreme floods in the past century—mostly due to projects to straighten, channelize, and bound the river with artificial levees. The new research also uncovered a clear pattern over the centuries linking flooding on the Mississippi with natural fluctuations of Pacific and Atlantic Ocean water temperatures.

Riverine Flooding On the Rise Worldwide

River flood risks increase around the globe under future warming.

“More than half of the United States must at least double their protection level within the next two decades if they want to avoid a dramatic increase in river flood risks,” says lead-author Sven Willner from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). Without additional adaptation measures – such as enhancing dykes, improved river management, increasing building standards, or relocating settlements – the number of people affected by the worst 10 percent of all river flooding events will increase in many places …..”

Heated Discussion at Congressional Hearing on Baton Rouge Flooding

Louisiana flood response blasted by Congress after state, FEMA ‘fell on its face,’ lawmaker says.

Tension over Louisiana’s recovery from last year’s catastrophic floods became the focus of a Congressional hearing on Capitol Hill Wednesday, with Republican congressmen repeatedly taking aim at Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards.

The committee chairman from Utah asked Edwards if he was “clueless;” a representative from Georgia repeatedly asked Edwards why he didn’t call for an evacuation ahead of the floods; a North Carolina congressman demanded more information about the state’s process of finding an administrator to oversee upcoming housing recovery programs.

The hearing was billed as a deep-dive into the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s response to the floods nearly eight months into the recovery process, but most of the heat came down on the state.

Lots of Activity re Pending Rise in Flood Ins. Rates

#1 – See this Wash Post article: Rise in government insurance rates to mirror rising waters, flood debt. Some excerpts from the article:

The government is slowly phasing out subsidized flood insurance for more than a million Americans with houses in flood zones who, in some cases, pay half the true commercial rate.

Some owners say they are angry because their houses near lakes, rivers, bays and oceans were much more affordable with cheap rates that will now increase by as much as 25 percent each year until the premiums equal the full risk of settling down on property mapped as a flood zone.

#2 – Check out the new report on flood insurance from the National Academy of Sciences:

The new report: Affordability of National Flood Insurance Program Premiums: Report 1 (2015)

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Abstract of the report:

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) within the Federal Emergency Management Agency faces dual challenges of maintaining affordable flood insurance premiums for property owners and ensuring that revenues from premiums and fees cover claims and program expenses over time. A new congressionally mandated report from the National Research Council, the operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences, found that these objectives are not always compatible and may, at times, conflict with one another. The report discusses measures that could make insurance more affordable for all policy holders and provides a framework for policymakers to use in designing targeted assistance programs.

Although there are multiple ways to measure the cost burden of flood insurance on property owners and renters, the report found that there are no objective definitions of affordability. Where Congress or FEMA determine insurance premiums to be unaffordable, households paying those premiums might be made eligible for assistance through the NFIP. The report says that it will be up to policymakers to select which households will receive assistance, the form and amount of assistance provided, how it will be provided, who will pay for the assistance, and how an assistance program will be administered.

 

 

 

FEMA Will Review All Flood Claims From H. Sandy

From the NYT on March 13, FEMA to Review All H. Sandy Flood Claims.

As noted by reader, James Fossett:

* * * this story from the New York Times which reports on an on-going dispute where it’s been alleged that engineering reports of flood damage were doctored to minimize federal flood insurance payouts. While disputes over what’s flood damage and what’s not seem endemic to recovery programs—they crop up in FEMA’s Public Assistance program as well—the fact that they’re still going on more than two years after Sandy doesn’t speak well for our ability to manage the recovery process.

See comments below.

Update on March 16: As many as 147,000 claims have to be reviewed!