Homes that sit right on the water, like these in Malibu, Calif., are most likely to experience repeat flooding damage.

Rising Risks: Thousands of Properties Plagued by Repeat Flood Damage

Like the rising waters of a swollen stream, new federal data reveals a surprising number of U.S. properties experience repeated flooding. It’s a signal of a growing risk nationwide.

What’s new: The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) reports over 44,000 structures with recurring flood damage. Some properties were flooded dozens of times, and in some cases, cumulative payouts exceeded a property’s worth.

The federal data shows that 30 properties have flooded at least 30 times.

  • NFIP covers nearly five million properties and is often the only flood insurance provider for many locales.

The big picture: Although repeatedly flooded properties account for only 1% of NFIP policies, they account for over 10% of its claims, highlighting a significant challenge in mitigating flood risk.

What they’re saying: Experts stress the urgency of policy reforms to address increasing flood risks exacerbated by climate and development in flood-prone areas.

“We have to stop the rinse-and-repeat cycle on repetitive loss,” FEMA assistant administrator David Maurstad told The Washington Post.

“There are more storms, more rain, more high-tide days that flood your community. There’s risky development, there are more hard surfaces. … It’s never just one thing,” Anna Weber, an NRDC senior policy analyst, told WaPo. “That’s the bottom line, is that the risk and the damages are increasing faster than we are dealing with them.”

Zoom in: Since Hurricane Katrina battered the Gulf Coast in 2005, the NFIP has remained in the red. 

Subsequent disasters, including Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and the active 2017 hurricane season, have left the program more than $20 billion in debt.

Starting in 2021, FEMA implemented a new pricing system that better reflected actual flood risks. That meant homeowners in high-risk areas saw premiums spike, leading to an outcry by some lawmakers over affordability.

The bottom line: The nation’s flood insurance program faces challenges in balancing affordability and fiscal solvency. That underscores the need for Congressional reforms to address the growing flood risk and its associated financial implications.

Go Deeper: See where properties continue to flood at