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America's national flood insurance program is $20 billion in debt. This map shows why.

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This week, the Federal Emergency Management Agency released publicly for the first time data on every claim paid since the inception of the modern flood insurance program 40 years ago.

While the dataset does not include exact locations, it does contain approximate coordinates that The Post and Courier used to map out which areas of the country have received the most in claim payments.

By far, the areas receiving the highest payouts are those around Houston, New Orleans, and the New York / New Jersey coast. These areas were ravaged in recent years by storms such as Harvey, Katrina and Sandy, respectively. Also visible are major flood-prone rivers, such as the Mississippi.

Hurricane Wire is a pop-up newsletter during hurricane season that delivers anyone who lives on the East Coast all the information they need to know as storms brew in the Atlantic and beyond.


The National Flood Insurance Program has been in a financially precarious position since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The program had accrued about $20.5 billion in debt as of last September.

Chloe Johnson contributed to this report. 

Product Editor

J. Emory Parker is the interactive editor at The Post and Courier. Before joining the paper in 2013, he was a molecular biologist. His focus is on blending journalism, science, and technology to tell stories in innovative ways.

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