Federal Flood-Insurance Program Is Awash in Repeated Claims for Damages

WNYC | June 24, 2014 | Energy & Environment
Homes in NJ and NY classified as ‘severe and repetitive loss’ properties cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars

sandy flood
If you know a flood is coming, do you build an ark? Or do you just file another claim with FEMA’s flood-insurance program?

Some 4,700 homes and businesses in New Jersey and New York are classified as “severe and repetitive loss” properties by the government, meaning they flooded at least twice over a 10-year period and suffered extensive damages. All told, the flood-insurance program has paid out more than a billion dollars to fix them, for an average cost of about $213,000 per property.

And yet, generally, property owners are not required to make any long-term improvements to prevent flooding from happening again. Homeowners are required to elevate their properties above the flood plain if the damage to their house is greater than half of its market value.

Coulter Jones and Matthew Schuerman of WNYC, a partner of NJ Spotlight, take a detailed look at the federal flood-insurance program and what might be done to ease the burden it places on taxpayers.

Read and listen to their full report.

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