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Climate Change, Soaring Flood Insurance Could Trigger A Mortgage Crisis

“Flood insurance is sold as protection from climate change. As costs rise, it could push people from their homes instead.”

“BROOKLYN, N.Y. — When Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012, Thalia Panton watched in disbelief as floodwaters careened down her quiet, tree-lined street in Canarsie, Brooklyn. Sparks flew from downed electrical lines as rushing rapids rose past her thighs.

The water receded as quickly as it appeared. But the damage was done. When the skies cleared, Panton was left with $60,000 in losses. The basement had flooded, damaging musical instruments her husband and son use for their gigs as well as electrical equipment that kept the house running. Panton and her neighbors didn’t get flood insurance until after Sandy because Canarsie wasn’t considered a major flood risk at the time of the storm.

Seven years later, as even more communities reckon with rising sea levels and catastrophic storms, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is encouraging homeowners and renters to “buy as much flood insurance as they can.” The agency provides over 96% of all flood coverage through its National Flood Insurance Program, making it the sole option for most Americans.”

Jie Jenny Zou reports for the Center for Public Integrity (in collaboration with WNYC/Gothamist and Vox) February 25, 2020.