Editor’s Note: This Commentary (originally posted in April) is again timely because of the late August damage inflicted by Hurricane Harvey. That damage is sure to complicate Congressional efforts to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which will lapse if not reauthorized by Sept. 30. The NFIP is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and provides coverage for more than 4.9 million policyholders, including 593,113 in Texas. The Texas total includes nearly 250,000 federal insurance policies in Houston and surrounding Harris County with a total coverage value of about $69.3 billion, according to FEMA data as reported by rollcall.com. FEMA is authorized to borrow only $5.8 billion to cover claims that exceed the funds it has on hand, unless Congress raises the borrowing limit. Much of the NFIP’s $24.6 billion debt came from damage claims submitted after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 and Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
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