Nov 3, 2017

Why flood insurance claims were so low after Hurricane Maria

From left: Aerial shots of hurricane damage in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. Photos: AP

As of Oct. 25, FEMA had paid $2.8 billion in federal assistance under the National Flood Insurance Program to people affected by Hurricane Harvey and $179 million to those in the path of Hurricane Irma — but just $121,000 to people in the areas devastated by Maria, per early estimates FEMA provided to Axios. That's because FEMA received 180 times as many claims from Harvey victims as Maria victims.

The big picture: Flood insurance is not available to much of Puerto Rico. Buying flood insurance under the federal program requires municipalities and counties to maintain reasonable flood standards, which may pose too high a cost for most counties on the island, according to R.J. Lehmann, an expert on insurance and financial service policy at the R Street Institute, a free market think tank. "It really comes down to this: Puerto Rico doesn't buy flood insurance because Puerto Rico is very poor," Lehmann said.

By the numbers: In Puerto Rico, 5,267 properties are covered by the National Flood Insurance Program, compared to 1,725,394 properties in Florida, per FEMA data shared with Axios.

The details:

Hurricane Harvey
  • Landfall: Aug. 25, Texas
  • 90,500 claims submitted, including 90,000 from Texas residents and 500 from Louisiana residents
  • 586,758 Texas properties and 495,002 Louisiana properties insured under the NFIP
  • $2.8 billion paid for all claims

Hurricane Irma Landfall: Sept. 10, Florida 30,000 claims submitted, including 25,900 from Florida, 2,200 from South Carolina, 1,900 from Georgia, 73 from the Virgin Islands, 5 from Puerto Rico, 3 from Alabama 1,725,394 Florida properties and 1,383 Virgin Islands properties insured under the NFIP $179 million paid for all claims, including $157 million to residents of Florida, $12 million to Georgia, $8 million to South Carolina Hurricane Maria Landfall: Sept. 20, Puerto Rico 500 claims received from Puerto Rico 5.267 Puerto Rico properties insured under the NFIP $121,000 paid for all claims It's also a mortgage problem, Lehmann said. A significant portion of the properties that do have flood insurance are foreclosed, and homeowners who aren't paying their mortgages are not eligible for the flood insurance that comes with it."There's a lot that Puerto Rico is going to miss out on" under federal insurance programs like the NFIP, due to the stipulations that the aid comes with, Lehmann said. The island will be much more reliant on federal aid under the Stafford Act to fund its ongoing recovery.

Go deeper

Mass shooting in Milwaukee: What we know

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in 2012. Photo: John Gress/Corbis via Getty Images

Six people died in a shooting at the Molson Coors Brewing Company in Milwaukee on Wednesday, including the gunman, Mayor Tom Barrett told reporters at a Wednesday evening press conference with local police.

Details: All of the victims worked at the brewery complex, as did the shooter who died of "an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound," police confirmed in a statement late Wednesday.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus updates: South Korea case count tops 2,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

33 people in California have tested positive for the coronavirus, and health officials are monitoring 8,400 people who have recently returned from "points of concern," Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,850 people and infected over 83,000 others in some 50 countries and territories. The novel coronavirus is now affecting every continent but Antarctica, and the WHO said Wednesday the number of new cases reported outside China has exceeded those inside the country for the first time.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 8 hours ago - Health

Syria's darkest chapter

Family room without a family, in Idlib. Photo: Muhammed Said/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The worst humanitarian crisis of Syria’s brutal civil war is colliding today with what could be the war’s most dangerous geopolitical showdown, after at least 29 Turkish troops were killed in an airstrike.

The big picture: The fighting is taking place in Idlib in northwest Syria, where a ferocious Syrian and Russian offensive has displaced 1 million civilians and infuriated Turkey, which borders the region.

Go deeperArrow10 hours ago - World