Obama signs relief bill for hurricane Sandy but that’s just the start

US Congress Hurricane Sandy Relief Plan
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US Congress Hurricane Sandy Relief PlanHurricane Sandy Aid – congress to vote on more funds

The $9.7 billion flood relief bill for insurance claims was signed into law by Pres. Obama while House waits to vote on a larger Sandy relief deal worth up to $51 billion.

Pressure from FEMA

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) had pushed for Sandy relief, stating that without addition funding they money to help will quickly run out. The White House reports that over 100,000 claims could not be paid out without more funding from Congress. John Boehner, Speaker of the House, has set a vote on addition funds of $51 billion for January 15 and the Senate has agreed to vote on the same package the next week.

Superstorm Sandy and losses

Sandy was by far the most devastating natural disaster to hit the US in 2012. Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey were the hardest hit areas causing a whopping $50 billion dollars in total loses, with $25 billion of those loses being insured. Besides property and other damages from Sandy, 125 lives were lost in the US and 71 died when the storm hit the Caribbean.

Uninsured losses from around the world in 2011 were a staggering $400 billion. Totals for 2012 were lower, with $160 billion in uninsured natural disaster losses. Insured losses from the year prior were $65 billion. US claims account for 90% of the total. This total is down from the year before when earthquakes in New Zealand and Japan were the biggest disasters.

Insurance claims not just for Sandy

Though the most claims in the US were after Sandy, other areas of the US faced different natural disasters. The public-private crop insurance program saw nearly $17 billion in claims due to the severe drought that ravaged part of the US last summer, mostly in the south. This accounted for nearly 80% of all crop loss. Tornadoes in late spring and early summer also added up to $2.5 billion in losses.

World-wide, insurance makes up less of the total losses for disasters. Flooding in China was estimated to be responsible for $8 billion in damage, but only $180 million was insured. Last May, earthquakes in Italy produced $16 billion in damage with only approximately $1.6 billion being insured.

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