Your tax dollars repeatedly repair flood-prone homes

National Flood Insurance Program $20 billion in debt


SAN ANTONIO – Billions of tax dollars are being spent on rebuilding and protecting expensive flood-prone homes around the country that have been severely and repeatedly damaged by floodwater. 

Many of those homes are owned by people who can afford to pay for the repairs on their own.

Ten separate times, an angry Atlantic Ocean has taken aim at a pricey waterfront house in a small seaside town just south of Boston.

The cost of repairing the damage over the years is now close to $1 million. 

So what does that mean to you?

Well, taxpayers across the nation have paid a large portion of the bill.

"It's a very, very serious situation. The taxpayers come in, bail out the property owners and that's to great expense," Jack Clarke of Mass Audubon said.

There are roughly 12,000 of what the government calls "flood-prone homes" covered by the federal government's national flood insurance program, or NFIP.

In Texas, from May 4 to June 20 during the time the Lone Star State saw devastating flooding and severe weather, NFIP payouts totaled $106,857,120.

That amount covers damage caused by floods, high winds and other severe weather.

In Texas, there are there are 597,950 NFIP policyholders.

In Hays County, the area hit hardest by the Memorial Day floods, there have been 380 NFIP claims made.

It's unclear if any of the properties damaged in Texas are considered high risk.

Until Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, insurance premiums collected through the program covered the cost of losses. 

But since then, the program has racked up more than $20 billion in debt, which means taxpayers are on the hook to rebuild thousands of homes that are the repeated target of nature's wrath.

"That loss translates into public policy and public tax dollars that are being wasted when we keep rebuilding in these vulnerable areas," said Clarke.

And those tax dollars are paying for the repairs no matter how wealthy the homeowner is.

Massachusetts is considering buying back homes that have little chance of surviving severe storms.

A similar program has been implemented in Missouri and seems to be working in areas where river flooding can be severe.

It's also gaining in popularity in New York and New Jersey, which were both devastated by Hurricane Sandy.

Three years ago, Congress took a stab at fixing this problem when it significantly hiked flood insurance premiums to reduce dependence on tax dollars but softened the blow when homeowners complained.

The end result of that political battle: Taxpayers will continue bearing a sizable portion of the cost of rebuilding expensive waterfront homes.

About the Author: