NEW ORLEANS, La. — There is perhaps no place else in America more painfully aware of the depths of a natural disaster quite like New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward, but 17 years after Hurricane Katrina, residents here and across the country are facing a new storm of uncertainty as homeowners insurance companies are going bankrupt.
Laura Paul oversees the nonprofit LowerNine.Org. Its mission is to keep legacy residents who came back after the storm in their homes.
"We had one of the highest rates of Black homeownership in the country and those numbers were decimated by the storm," she said.
Facing rising payout costs from storms like Hurricane Ida, many insurance companies in Louisiana are going bankrupt or refusing to write new policies, leaving more than 100,000 residents with no coverage homeowners coverage right as the height of hurricane season approaches.
"You might as well not carry coverage, because when something happens, your coverage will be invalidated for one reason or another," Paul added.
What’s happening here, though, is starting to play out in communities across the country. With the frequency and intensity of natural disasters growing in this country, more and more Americans are losing coverage every day.
Jesse Keenan, an associate professor at Tulane University who studies real estate, says that as the cost of cleaning up after a natural disaster rises because of climate change, more and more insurance companies will either go under or not pay out claims.
"Even those people that insurance today may not be able to get paid full on their claims," Keenan said.
From California to Texas to Florida, hundreds of thousands of Americans are expected to receive notice this year that they’re being dropped from their insurance coverage.
"This is the harbinger of what’s to come for many states as insurance becomes more expensive and harder to get," he added.