With Hurricane Irma dominating the news cycle, coverage of Hurricane Harvey has died down. Yet as of September 1, Texan authorities have estimated that Harvey is to blame for at least 39 deaths.
That number is expected to grow as more bodies are discovered in the wreckage.
The complete and utter destruction caused by the sustained flooding displaced thousands of people and created a disaster of historic proportions.
While 90% of all U.S. natural disasters declared by the President involve some sort of flooding, the flooding in Houston and the surrounding areas is unlike any other flood Texas has experienced. It is so extreme that Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced his state may need around $125 billion from the federal government in order to recover.
Some reports estimate the true cost of recovery even higher. NBC News cites a report from catastrophe recovery firm RMS that estimates that the wind, storm surge, and flood damages could amount to between $70 billion and $90 billion alone. Add that to the Moody’s Analytics estimate that the damages to homes, businesses, and public infrastructure could be upwards of $65 billion, along with an additional $10 billion in lost economic output.
Many people are wondering exactly where this money will come from. In the past, states have relied on the Federal Emergency Management Agency for financial aid, but the agency’s flood insurance plan is whittling down to almost nothing. Inevitably, some Texas residents will have to pick up some of the costs of repairing their homes and vehicles themselves while they wait for aid from FEMA. As of August 28, FEMA officials expected more than 450,000 people to apply for emergency aid in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
Last week, President Trump and Democratic party leaders joined forces for a rare show of bipartisanship. In a continuing resolution to fund the government, they secured $15 billion in Harvey relief. According to Business Insider, the funds include “$7.4 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, $7.4 billion for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and $450 million for the Small Business Administration.”
While private insurance may also cover some of the damages, uninsured homeowners face even more problems. Consider this: a 2,000 square foot home that experiences a one-inch flood of water can face almost$21,000 in damages. Some homes in the Houston area experienced flooding anywhere from four to 12 feet.
Unfortunately, there are more families in Texas without flood insurance than those with it. The Insurance Information Institute showed that on the Texan coast, only a few families actually were prepared with the right kind of protection. The coverage ranged anywhere from only 12% of homeowners in Cameron county to 41% in Galveston country actually having insurance plans.
So as of right now, there is not much word on what exactly is going to happen. There are a lot of things up in the air as the state starts down the long road to recovery.