Lack of in­sur­ance wor­ries In­dian vic­tims

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

The Hindu - - WORLD - Vargh­ese K. Ge­orge

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.

Com­mu­nity out­reach

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.

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