Lack of insurance worries Indian victims

Their current policies do not cover floods and the loss of property is huge

Varghese K. George

Washington: As rains taper off and flood waters recede in Houston, Texas, there is no report of any Indian American life lost, but there are serious concerns among the victims about how to pick up their lives. Almost all of them have insurance policies that do not cover floods, and the loss of property is huge, community volunteers and victims told The Hindu by phone.

The greater Houston area has a population of five million, of which around 1.5 lakh are estimated to be Indian Americans. Around 30,000 people were evacuated and the population of Indians among them would be in the high hundreds, said Anupam Ray, India’s Consul General in Houston who has coordinated with several community organisations in relief efforts.

Evacuation and rescue operations were done by government agencies, but Indian Americans moved out of government run shelters within hours of reaching there in the last two days.

“The community network has been strong and welcoming to even strangers who needed a place,” said Jitin Aggarwal, a software entrepreneur and philanthropist. Community shelters are being run in the city by several temples, Muslim associations and churches. Mr. Ray said many Indians are volunteering at the government run shelters also.

Reji V. Kurian is a volunteer at the shelter hosted by the Emmanuel Marthoma Church in Houston, who took a boat ride on Tuesday evening to the Riverstone neighbourhood to find water standing 400 meters away from his house. “At least 350 houses in the vicinity are under water. These houses are new, bought in the last two years, and some only two months old, costing 3.5 lakh dollars and up to two million for some. Typical insurance policies do not cover flood and only now people are realising that. With cars, carpets and household articles gone, this is going to be a challenge,” he said. The church hosts around 160 families, most of them Indians but a handful of Chinese Americans also.

Mr. Aggarwal said Indian families living in dry areas are taking in strangers without any hesitation. “One Indian family is hosting 10 Indian students, who had their homes flooded,” he said. The operation coordinated by the Indian consulate has evacuated nearly 200 students, and Mr. Ray said most of them are now volunteering.

Indian community’s outreach is not limited to Indians, and the crisis is also being used as an opportunity to reach out to others, Mr. Aggarwal said. Indian restaurants, doctors and paramedics are also mobilized to provide food and medicine at evacuation centres.

Mr. Aggarwal has been living in Houston for the last 15 years. He said even those who living in the city for 50 years have no recollection of anything similar.

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1 thought on “Lack of insurance worries Indian victims

  1. The second richest State of the Union which is three times bigger than France is now really shaken. The State of Texas consume more oil than any other State in the nation, almost 10 times of the oil consumption of the State of Tennessee.

    The warm weather and less pricey houses when compared with other mega cities of the U.S., the fourth largest city of the nation was a city of attraction, thus rapidly expanding with the people from Asia. The Asian population in Houston is around 6 lakhs, out of that around 30% are from Vietnam who were arrived in 1975 after the fall of South Vietnam. Then the rest composed of people from other Asian countries. The people of Indian origin were leading in the economic ladder, some of the shopping areas were like Mumbai or Trivandrum.

    80% of the residents of Houston don’t have flood insurance coverage. Please don’t misunderstand me, for the people of Kerala origin, their big and fancy houses were the pride and joy of their life. 350000 to 500000 automobiles are under the water. 100000 houses are partially or fully damaged. Every Indian living in any part of the U.S. has their relatives or friends in Houston.

    The flood damage is not only in Houston, but in many other cities too. Thus the total lost to the economy will be in billions, and the duration of rebuilding will take years.

    When the hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans exactly 12 years back, then hurricane Sandy in New York, those were great tragedies upon the nation; but hurricane Harvey will be defeating both of the together. In New Orleans, drop in population was 18%, around 90000 people left the place, never returned. Half of them went to Houston. Even today, New Orleans has not recovered from the shock of the hurricane Katrina.

    A few weeks back, the nation was fragmented with the race issue of white supremacy-Neo Nazism and Anti_Jewish; on the other side opposing the dangerous march of the minority trouble makers based on race. But the whole nation could witness the black people carrying the white people and vice versa, hugging each other for saving lives. One white person carrying a Vietnames lady while her child was sleeping in her lap was the most touching picture; and that picture went around the world. Through tears and suffering, some divine healing of the skin color war has been accomplished, which is an open truth. GOD may be preparing the city of Houston for a spiritual awakening in the U.S.

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