The water reached up to his stomach. But consider this: half of the properties were covered by flood insurance.
As Harvey begins to wind down, 30,000 to 40,000 homes in the Houston region have been demolished by record rainfall and devastating flooding, according to Harris County officials, who estimate damage has surpassed $20 billion. "Harvey is an opportunity to take care of Texas but also reform the flood insurance program and make it sustainable", he said.
It's quite an indictment of how we insure against flood in the U.S. And of course, the unseen effect of heavily taxpayer-subsidized flood insurance is that much development that takes place in those areas wouldn't take place at all if they there wasn't an implicit subsidy to do so.
Flood damage is most often not covered in someone's homeowners or renters insurance policy, only through a separate flood insurance policy.
"With Hurricane Katrina, in that year, the program paid out more in claims than it had ever paid over the entire life of the program to that point", said Carolyn Kousky, director for policy research and engagement at the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center.
Nonetheless, the program kept a balanced budget until 2005.
Every major flood produces a flood of requests for federal help, and a flood of regret among property owners who had declined to buy flood insurance. The government bets that Americans, who are mostly kind, decent and generous, will simply bite the bullet and pay up. Let's go back to the beginning.
No, we're not saying that the federal government shouldn't play any role in disaster relief. By the 1960s, after costs kept racking up, there was pressure to cut back on that aid.
Flood insurance essentially guarantees, up to a limit, money for the program's 5 million policyholders to fix damage or rebuild. A Government Accountability Office (GAO) study from earlier this year shows that the program owes at least $24.6 billion, which GAO predicts FEMA will be unable to repay.
USA warns N Korea of "massive military response"
Such a move would have serious ramifications, resulting in a halt to U.S. trade with China, who remains its key economic partner. If North Korea hasn't already developed a hydrogen bomb then it is likely it will, before long, unless dramatically stopped.
Once they return to session, they'll have just 12 working days to renew this crucial program.
But, she noted, those discounts are getting phased out.
"If it rains where you live, you should get flood insurance".
"Prices change on an annual basis", Norberg said. You can also check out maps by going to the National Flood Insurance website and your local city or county should have flood maps as well.
"If they say, 'well our rates are going way up in Texas, we need to offset in Tennessee, ' the [Tennessee Department of Insurance] is not going to approve that because it's determined state-by-state", Farmer said.
Still, Texas representatives insist that the devastation from Hurricane Harvey should be incentive enough to move ahead with comprehensive reform to the insurance program.
Efforts to raise insurance premiums to better reflect flood risk have been met with resistance from the real estate industry and politicians representing the areas affected; a 2012 bill passed by Congress was largely gutted two years later in the face of a backlash from affected communities.
"Meaning that when it happens, it affects a lot of different businesses and individuals at the same time", he said.