Hurricane Season And No Flood Insurance? Give Me a Break!

Last Updated May 28, 2010 6:09 PM EDT

Tuesday, June 1, marks the start of the 2010 hurricane season. And, it's expected to be a doozy.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting an extremely active hurricane season:

  • 14 to 23 Named Storms (top winds of 39 mph or higher), including:
  • 8 to 14 Hurricanes (top winds of 74 mph or higher), of which:
  • 3 to 7 could be Major Hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of at least 111 mph)
This can't be good news for President Obama, who today made his second visit to the oil-stained Gulf Coast.
"We want to stop the leak, we want to contain and clean up the oil, and we want to help the people in this region return to their lives and livelihoods as soon as possible," President Obama said to members of the press.

Stopping the oil leak (leak is really the wrong word for the biggest oil spill in history - by far!) is a top priority. But having a hurricane with sustained winds of 75 miles per hour or more whip up that oil that's mired on the shore and spread it around liberally sounds like piling on.

Fortunately, everyone in the Gulf Coast has learned about the importance of flood insurance. Right? Oh, wait. Congress adjourned for the Memorial Day Week Break (they'll be back June 7, even though the rest of America who has a job will be back at work on June 1) without extending the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
The National Flood Insurance Program is run by the Federal Emergency Management Authority (FEMA), the same folks who clean up after hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanos, floods, and other natural disasters. Some 20,000 communities across the country participate in the National Flood Insurance Program, which is only available if a community has been declared a disaster area. Once a community participates, its residents to buy cheap flood insurance (a typical policy costs $500 per year) from Uncle Sam.

Here's the fun part - Congress just allowed the National Flood Insurance Program to lapse. As of May 31, 2010, the day before the official start of the hurricane season, the program will lapse and homeowners will be left in limbo. It's the fourth time in six months that the program has been allowed to lapse.

According to, Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) proposed a five-year extension of the National Flood Insurance Program.
Sounds like the right idea. I'm sure those facing an active hurricane season would agree it's better to face it with flood insurance in place.

After all, how much financial pain can you expect the Gulf Coast to absorb in a single year? And, can you imagine what another Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Rita will do to real estate values?

Photo courtesy of NOAA

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Ilyce R. Glink is the author of several books, including 100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask and Buy, Close, Move In!. She blogs about money and real estate at
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    Ilyce R. Glink is an award-winning, nationally-syndicated columnist, best-selling book author and founder of Best Money Moves, an employee benefit program that helps reduce financial stress. She also owns, where readers can find real estate and personal finance resources.