Lack of Flood Insurance and a Growing Population May Make Rebuilding in Florida More Challenging After Hurricane Ian

L. Cane

There is a saying in Florida and other places affected by hurricanes: Hide from the wind. Run from the water. This phrase is arguably used because storm surge is among the most dangerous and costly aspects of a hurricane.

Still, while one can evacuate and hide from the water, flooding and storm surges can still cause catastrophic damage to one's home. If this is not bad enough, some of Florida's homes are uninsured against flood damage, which may make rebuilding after Hurricane Ian more costly and slow.

Additionally, Florida's population has swelled in recent years, meaning more people were in the hurricane's path, potentially taxing Florida's already-struggling insurance industry.

The Florida Insurance Industry was Already Struggling: According to ABC News, at least a dozen insurance companies have gone out of business in Florida since 2020. Nearly thirty others are suspected of being financially unstable.

A Rising Population: According to Census data, since 2021, Florida has had an average of more than 600 people move to the state each day- more than any other. The cities of Tampa, Ft. Myers, and Sarasota have all grown rapidly - and all have seen negative effects of the storm.

Costly Damage: CoreLogic, a research firm that estimates losses from natural disasters, estimates that flood damage from Ian could be in the range of $6 billion to $15 billion. Here is a tweet that appears to show a large fish or shark in the flooded streets of Ft. Myers.

Some Floridians Are Not Required to Have Flood Insurance: According to Politico, Floridians with a federally-backed mortgage must have flood insurance if they live in the 100-year floodplain. However, homes that live outside of the floodplain (or homes that do not have a mortgage) may still be vulnerable to flooding and may be uninsured against flood damage.

For example, First Street Foundation estimates that federal floodplain maps missed a third of the properties in Charlotte county that were affected by flooding but were not included in the maps. Those homes may have opted not to buy flood coverage but were still damaged.

Options for Aid From the Federal Government: A federal disaster declaration has been declared for the following counties: Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Orange, Osceola, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota, and Seminole.

Residents in those areas may be able to access federal funds to help with home repairs that insurance doesn't cover or loss of property. According to WGCU, the federal government can provide up to $37,900 for home repairs beyond what insurance will cover and another $37,900 for lost property.

Still, this coverage is basic and won't totally cover losses for many Floridians.

“We don’t rebuild homes back to the way they were,” FEMA spokesperson Jann Tracey has said. “We basically bring them back to a safe and sanitary, habitable condition."

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