Lack of insurance worries Indian victims
Their current policies do not cover floods and the loss to property is huge
As rains taper off and flood waters recede in Houston, there are serious concerns among the Indian-origin victims over how to rebuild their lives. The insurance policies of most of them do not cover floods, and the loss to property is huge, 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. About 30,000 people have been evacuated and the population of Indians among them would be in the high hundreds, said Anupam Ray, India’s Consul General.
Evacuation and rescue operations have been 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. Community shelters are being run in the city by several temples, Muslim associations and churches.
Mr. Aggarwal, who has been living in Houston for the last 15 years, says even those in the city for 50 years have no recollection of anything of similar magnitude.
Reji V. Kurian, a volunteer at the shelter hosted by the Emmanuel Marthoma Church in Houston, 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 floods 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 also a handful of Chinese Americans. Mr. Aggarwal said Indian families living in dry areas are taking in strangers without any hesitation.
Indian student dead
Meanwhile, an Indian student, Nikhil Bhatia, succumbed to his injuries on Tuesday in a local hospital. Bhatia, 24, who had gone swimming with his friend Shalini Singh last week, was rescued from Lake Bryan and brought to the hospital in a critical condition. The condition of Ms. Singh continues to be critical, according to Consulate officials.