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Lessons From Katrina: The Fight Our Communities Are Facing

Whenever the news describes Hurricane Harvey, it often gets compared to another unprecedented disaster that occurred in the South only 14 years ago: Katrina.

And it makes sense why—Harvey is the only hurricane to come close to the sort of damage Katrina inflicted on Louisiana. Harvey has cost Texas $125 billion in infrastructure damage, home losses, and totaled automobiles. For tourist destinations like Rockport or Port Aransas, the long-term cost to the economy can hardly be calculated.

Like Katrina, Harvey's chief calamity wasn't a natural disaster—it was the decades of decisions that kept Houston dependent on an outdated flood system, years of zoning laws that allowed developers to build and sell homes below the watermark, and an infrastructure that was built (but not updated) by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Without intervention from the courts or the government, we can also expect Texas' communities to experience some of the same kind of issues New Orleans residents faced in the late 2000s. Here are just a few:

Adjusters "Leaving" in the Middle of Your Claim

One of the strangest reports coming out of Katrina during the first few years of the disaster were stories of adjusters suddenly "leaving" your claim. Here's how it would go down:

Homeowners would get an adjuster for their claim, and things would be progressing slowly. One day, a homeowner would call the insurer to check on their claim...only to hear that the adjuster was gone. As a result, their case would have to start over.

Some people saw their case change hands six or seven times in the years following Katrina.

Local Government Hesitant to Call People Home

With the loss of so many residential buildings in the Coastal Bend and in Houston, local governments are having a hard time with the displaced populations of their once vital communities. Rebuilding those communities means making it easy for people to come back—but that's easier said than done.

People are hesitant to return for one simple reason: there's no guarantee that something like Harvey wouldn't happen again.

For some homeowners, Harvey was the second or third time they've been flooded in the last 5 years. Even well-off households would have a hard time rebuilding their finances after two flooding disasters. Who knows what would happen if they stayed?

Rising Housing Costs for Renters & Buyers

Houston still has to make a decision about its zoning laws now that hundreds of people realize that their homes are designed to be flooded. As we reported before, many homes were destroyed that weren't even on the floodplain maps our zoning laws are based on.

There's a distinct possibility that homes which are safe from flooding will suddenly increase in price, while homes which are in the floodplain will plummet in price. People displaced by the floods are realizing that the housing market in Houston comes with a brutal asterisk: pay exorbitant amounts for a safe home, or buy an affordable home and pay exorbitant flood insurance costs.

Renters looking for a temporary solution may find that buying a home during the renovation process is cheaper than renting one. Landlords with liveable units can charge whatever they like—they know the market needs them.

There's One Way to Possibly Speed Up Your Recovery

Call Arnold & Itkin. We're fighting for the recovery of hundreds of Texans right now who need help—people who only want their lives to get back to normal. We help them get there. Without intervention, without insurance companies doing what they promised to do, our communities are in for a long fight.

Our only goal is to make sure our clients win that fight.

Call (888) 400-2101 to schedule a free review of your claim today.