Much of Harvey's damage won't be covered by flood insurance

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(CBS 5 ADVOCATE) -

The historic flooding along the Gulf Coast is causing billions in damage and many of the people who have lost their homes don't appear to have flood insurance.

Rising flood water forced thousands in and around Houston to evacuate and leave behind their homes and possessions.

"There's water in all the beds in the house we've lost every strip of furniture, every couch, everything," flood victim Colleen Houston said.

But it appears for most of the victims, insurance will not cover the damage.

"There's a lot of uncertainty right now," Chuck Watson said.

Chuck Watson is with ENKI Holdings. This company tracks the financial impact of natural disasters. He says most mortgage companies require government flood insurance only for homes within designated flood zones.

"It looks like with Harvey maybe as much as two-thirds of the damage will have happened outside of those flood zones," Watson said.

Houston is in Harris County. The Insurance Information Institute says only 15% of the homes in that county have flood insurance. After previous storms, like Katrina and Sandy, the government stepped in to help uninsured homeowners. But it can be a difficult to get paid. 

"It's agonizing, it can take weeks and months, for some people in Sandy it took years," Jill Schlesinger said.

CBS News senior business analyst Jill Schlesinger says anyone who is at risk of flooding should be prepared for the worst.

"Every single person should have an inventory list of the contents of their home with pictures," Schlesinger said.

That could speed up a claim or government aid and help those who've lost everything, rebuild.

The National Flood Insurance program is run by FEMA and is currently about $25 billion in debt. Experts say Congress will have to provide the program new funding.

Remember, most homeowners insurance policies don't cover flood damage, so talk to your insurer if you feel you might be at risk.

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