As lawmakers on Capitol Hill Wednesday approved an emergency aid package for flood-ravaged Texas after Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma was bearing down on Puerto Rico and threatening the Florida coast.
The $8 billion in initial relief and rebuilding funds for victims of Harvey, which tore into Texas on Aug. 25, is expected to cover just a fraction of the insurance claims and rebuilding costs. The measure is expected to be approved by the Senate and sent to the White House later this week.
Initial estimates place expected damage at tens of billions of dollars in insured losses. But an estimated four out of five homeowners who suffered catastrophic damage were not covered by federal flood insurance.
Flood claims have already swamped the federal flood insurance program, which is still some $25 billion in debt after a wave of claims from major storms in the last few years. Those claims have escalated in recent decades, thanks in part to ongoing development of vulnerable U.S. coastal regions.