Texas officials are having difficulty enforcing some of the rules of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) – costing the state more than a billion dollars, an investigation has found.
Under the NFIP, state officials should require property owners to have their homes demolished or elevated if flood damage assessments are at least 50% of a home’s value. However, the Houston Chronicle found in its investigative report that Texas officials often undervalue damage estimates – allowing homeowners to move back to their high flood risk properties without making any changes.
Houston Chronicle’s report analyzed over 36,000 insurance claims on properties that are frequently flooded and found that approximately 16% of the properties had evidence of being substantially damaged by flooding at least once in the past.
The report also found that properties that did not meet the 50% requirement have cost the state at least $1.1 billion in insurance claims. In some cases, the claims far exceeded the value of the properties. Seven properties in Houston, the report cited, have had more than a hundred damage claims between them totaling $9 million – despite the combined value of the buildings being closer to $426,000.
One expert suggests the officials probably do not want to dishearten flood-stricken homeowners further.
“Nobody wants to tell a flood survivor, after they’ve lost everything, that, oh, by the way, you have to raise your house four feet,” Association of State Floodplain Managers executive director Chad Berginnis told Houston Chronicle.