WASHINGTON Jan 3 The U.S. flood insurance
program will run out of money to pay claims for Hurricane Sandy
and other disasters in coming days unless Congress lets it
borrow more funds, the national emergency agency said on
The warning from the Federal Emergency Management Agency
(FEMA) came a day ahead of a vote by the House of
Representatives on a $9 billion payment on storm-related support
for the National Flood Insurance Program.
House Speaker John Boehner reversed course and scheduled
Friday's vote after fellow Republicans from states hit hard by
the Oct. 29 storm slammed him for failing to bring the payment
up for a vote earlier this week.
FEMA has told Congress that unless its borrowing ceiling was
raised, "funds available to pay claims will be exhausted
sometime around the week of Jan. 7, 2013," the agency said in a
The FEMA program is essentially the only U.S. flood insurer
for residences. It has a $20.8 billion ceiling for borrowing
FEMA estimated Sandy-related flood losses of $6 billion to
$12 billion in November, far beyond its cash and $3 billion in
untapped borrowing authority.
The House will hold a second vote on Jan. 15 on the $51
billion remainder of the $60 billion Sandy disaster aid package
approved by the Senate last week.
Putting more money into the program would come months after
President Barack Obama signed a law aimed at improving its
finances. Congress bailed out the program after Hurricane
Katrina in 2005, and it is $18 billion in debt.
Sandy, the second-costliest storm in U.S. history,
devastated the northeastern United States, with New York and New
Jersey the hardest-hit states.