Tens of thousands of Florida residents have likely been left financially ruined because they did not have flood insurance before Hurricane Ian devastated wide swaths of the Sunshine State, according to experts.
The Biden administration last week designated nine Florida counties as disaster areas eligible for federal aid that would cover minor home repairs, short-term housing costs and other emergency-related measures.
Scores of people were killed as the storm left in its wake tens of billions of dollars worth of property damage.
But fewer than one-third of the 1.8 million households in those nine counties have policies with the National Flood Insurance Program, according to Politico.
That means some 1.3 million households do not have federally insured flood coverage.
Hardee County, a predominantly Hispanic jurisidiction that has a relatively low income level, lies 100 miles north of Fort Myers. The county numbers around 8,000 households.
But just 1.3% of those — or around 100 — have federal flood insurance, according to Politico.
“Ian could financially ruin thousands of families in Florida,” Mark Friedlander of the Insurance Information Institute told Politico.
“There’s no better way to say it.”
The NFIP is the dominant source of flood insurance in Florida, where — as is the case in every other state — homeowners insurance does not cover damage to property caused by flooding.
Recent data indicates that fewer Floridians bought flood insurance due to cost-cutting forced on them by record levels of inflation.
Flood insurance and storm surges are not included in homeowners insurance policies, so Floridians must pay for the coverage separately.
While state law does not require Floridians to purchase flood insurance, mortgage lenders often demand it, particularly of homeowners who live in areas that are prone to damage from storms.
Ian dumped as much as 15 inches of rain on parts of the state when it made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane along the southwestern coast just south of Tampa last week.
Amber Thorne is a resident of Seminole County. She told the Wall Street Journal that her two-bedroom house was flooded after a nearby creek overflowed as the hurricane passed through the area.
Thorne told the Journal that her home is not covered by flood insurance.
“I’m regretting not having it,” she said. According to the Journal, 97% of homes in Seminole County don’t have flood insurance.
The Journal cited statistics provided by Neptune Flood, a private flood insurance provider, which found that a whopping 98% of residents in Orange County, which includes Orlando, are not covered.
Seminole County officials said at least 2,000 homes have been damaged by flooding caused by Hurricane Ian.
In Orlando and its environs, officials say, Ian dumped between 10 and 16 inches of rain in some parts and around 1,000 people needed to relocate to shelters.
Since Ian passed through the region, rescue officials in Orange County said they have undertaken 1,700 missions to help people trapped in submerged cars and flooded homes.