>> As efforts in flood ravaged Louisiana turn from rescue to recovery, homeowners without flood insurance face an uncertain financial future. Private insurers do not cover flood damage. Flood insurance instead is underwritten by the Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA. Those who live in high risk flood zones are required to carry flood insurance in order to obtain a government backed mortgage.
But many of the areas around Baton Rouge hardest hit with record rainfall are not considered high risk. And while FEMA estimates 42% of homeowners in high risk areas carry flood insurance, only 12.5% of residents in low and moderate risk zones do. Those without flood insurance are eligible for up to $33,000 in federal aid.
But most will likely receive less than that. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005 FEMA paid $6.6 billion to just over one million households in the south, an average of about $6,000 per grant according to agency figures. Superstorm Sandy in 2012 produced an average payout of just under $8,000 for about 180,000 residents in New York and New Jersey.
A FEMA spokesperson telling Reuters that its assistance is meant to supplement insurance to provide short-term relief. FEMA has so far approved more than $55 million in aid for Louisiana, with more than 100,000 residents applying for assistance after the historic floods which have killed at least 13 and damaged more than 60,000 homes.