Congress Overwhelmed By Flood InsuranceClaims

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WASHINGTON - (11/17/05) -- Overwhelmed by claims fromhurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma, Congress began plans Wednesdayto increase funding for the National Flood Insurance Program forthe third time since the disasterous flooding caused by HurricaneKatrina. The House Financial Services Committee approved a billWednesday that will increase funding for the program, the onlynational provider of flood insurance, to $22 billion. The proposalcame at the same time the full House was voting to increase thefunding to $8.5 billion, and a month after the funding wasincreased to $3.5 billion, from $1.5 billion. The desperateincrease in funding comes as the Federal Emergency ManagementAgency, which administers the flood insurance program, said it israpidly running out of money to pay as many as 216,000 claimsvalued at more than $23 billion from the massive hurricane. FEMAsaid Wednesday it has stopped paying flood claims because theprogram is approaching its spending limit. The bill passed by theHouse committee would also reform the flood insurance program byincreasing limits on coverage for structural damages, replacementsof furnishings, and for living expenses.

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