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Should flood-prone homes be rebuilt?

Victims of the recent, massive storms in Texas and Florida face tough decisions about whether to rebuild. The Natural Resources Defense Council reports there are more than 30,000 properties in the U.S. that experience repeated flooding. Texas and Florida rank among the most affected states.

FEMA says the National Flood Insurance Program has already paid $347 million to Hurricane Harvey victims. During Harvey, 27 inches of water flooded the Burgan family’s house. This isn’t the first time the Burgans have flooded, but it may be the last time they rebuild, reports CBS News’ Omar Villafranca.


CBS News

“It’s not just bricks and wood. It’s our home,” Rachel Burgan said.
 
Rachel, her husband David and their two teenagers live in a house that’s been in Burgan’s family for 52 years.

Six inches of floodwater from Tropical Storm Allison crept into the house in 2001. But last month during Hurricane Harvey, more than two feet of water inundated the home. The Burgans, like the overwhelming majority of other households in the area, didn’t have flood insurance. 

Asked if they would consider getting flood insurance now, Rachel said, “Yes. With Allison it was six inches. This is much more devastating. This is walls, this is furniture. Thank goodness stuff can be replaced.”

FEMA ays it’s still assessing flood damage from Hurricanes Irma and Harvey.
 
As of Saturday, more than 100,000 claims have been submitted under FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program, which is nearly $25 billion in debt. They estimate the cost for Harvey alone will reach $11 billion.
 
Following Superstorm Sandy in 2012, FEMA paid over $8.6 billion in flood insurance claims.

According to a recent report, the National Flood Insurance Program spent $5.5 billion between 1978 and 2015 repairing more than 30,000 properties that repeatedly flood.

“Take a hard look at the toll on your family and your finances,” said former FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate.  

“Ultimately for the taxpayer there’s a point at which when we deal with repetitive loss, it doesn’t make sense to keep paying for those properties over and over again unless we’re changing something. Either mitigating or elevating that home or offering buyouts,” Fugate said.

If their home floods again, Rachel said for her husband it’s “third strike and we’re out.”

“As much as we love this and we need to rebuild and want to rebuild. We’re both public school teachers and so the cost comes in,” David said.

Houston-area officials are hoping the government will buy back some homes in flood-prone areas. According to the Houston Chronicle, they’ve already received more than a thousand requests from homeowners looking to sell.

© 2017 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.


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