With dozens of people dead and rain still in the forecast, the area hasn’t been known for this type of flooding.
Regions of Kentucky have suffered profoundly as a result of extensive and ongoing flooding, a situation that has only been made worse because there is very little flood insurance coverage throughout the affected areas.
Hundreds of homes flooded, primarily badly, and residents were left waiting to assess the damage.
While flood insurance is often purchased in parts of the country at a higher risk of damage from these natural disasters, they are not commonplace in these regions of Kentucky and therefore coverage is uncommon. As a result, the additional assistance in financial recovery and rebuilding that the coverage provides isn’t available to most of the affected homeowners.
“In the country, we only have 4 out of 100 homes covered by flood insurance,” said the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration’s Paul Huang. The administration is part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The majority of the homes damaged or destroyed are not covered by flood insurance policies.
“We only have a couple hundred policies” in eastern Kentucky, said Huang. As a result, aside from that small number of covered homes, the majority that were damaged or destroyed at the end of July and early August likely won’t have additional financial assistance for recovery and rebuilding.
“This is very typical of inland communities that face these sudden, tragic flood events,” said Mark Friedlander from the Insurance Information Institute non-profit organization. “Even though we’re seeing more weather events that are causing significant flooding in inland communities, we have not really seen much of a change in terms of the percentage of homeowners who have flood coverage.”
There is no requirement to purchase flood insurance for the majority of homeowners across the United States. The exception is if they have federally backed mortgages and reside in areas designated as flooding zones by FEMA or if they’ve already received assistance from FEMA for damage caused by previous floods.
“But when FEMA maps the flood risk, they do not usually include rainfall-related flooding,” said the Environmental Defense Fund’s Carolyn Kousky. “So you have people who didn’t realize that they were at risk of flooding now getting flooded.”