Nearly four years ago, Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the Texas Gulf Coast, dropping over 60 inches of rain and causing mass amounts of flooding in the greater Houston area. In 2018, a $2.5 billion flood-control bond referendum was approved, but, Harris County has found multiple watersheds are behind on receiving this flood control funding.
Stall in Flood Control Funding Impacts Harris County Watersheds
Recent data released by the Harris County Budget Office revealed stalls in the 2018 flood-control funding, which left three Harris County watersheds with significant financial shortfalls. The lag in funding could lead to major construction delays on various flood-control projects aimed at mitigating future storm damage. The watersheds in Greens Bayou, Halls Bayou, and the San Jacinto River were found to have obtained less than 50% of funds, and are still owed $252 million, $272 million, and $154 million, respectively.
These funding delays can be tied to a shift in how federal officials within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) made funding available to Texas. Instead of giving Harris County a direct allocation of $1 billion in Harvey relief, HUD sent relief money to the Texas General Land Office to be made available in the form of competitive grants.
Last October, the Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) submitted nine grant applications for roughly $900 million. Harris County was able to secure an additional $1.2 billion in federal funds but determined $1.4 billion is still needed. Harris County is seeking $220 million in grant funding for Halls Bayou and $240 million for Greens Bayou. In the meantime, officials are using local funding to move forward with right-of-way acquisition, design, and other elements of the planning process for those watersheds.
Hurricane Insurance Coverage
Property damage from strong winds and heavy rain, as well as flooding, are often associated with hurricanes and named storms. After Hurricane Harvey’s catastrophic impact, many business owners found they had little to no coverage for flood damage due to inadequate flood insurance coverage. In fact, a wealth of businesses affected by Harvey were not located in a designated flood plain at the time of the storm, meaning flood insurance was not required.
Flood insurance is usually not a covered loss in a standard commercial policy. Flood damage is unique from water damage caused by rain and often flood insurance must be purchased separately to secure complete hurricane coverage. Similarly, water damage is not the same as wind or storm damage and many policies pertaining to hurricanes only cover wind-related damage.
In fact, most commercial policies exclude coverage for losses caused by rising water. In certain cases where businesses sustain concurrent wind and rising water damage from a hurricane, some insurers will attempt to separate the covered wind damage from the uncovered flood damage to decrease the amount they have to pay to policyholders. On the other hand, carriers can also deny the claims entirely by citing flood exclusions. As we near the start of the 2021 hurricane season, it’s incredibly important for commercial property owners to consult with an experienced hurricane insurance coverage attorney to ensure they have adequate coverage for both wind and flood damage.
Houston Hurricane Insurance Claims Attorneys
Despite having occurred nearly four years ago, Hurricane Harvey made a major impact on the Houston area that is still being felt today. In the aftermath of such a storm, many business owners were made aware of the importance of having adequate flood coverage, even if their property is not in a designated flood plain.
Despite having the necessary coverage for both wind and flood damage, insurance companies will still attempt to deny or delay claims in order to turn a profit. At Raizner Law, we’ve represented thousands of clients in claims against every major insurance company for commercial losses. Contact our office today to see how we can assist with your claim.