Debate among readers broke out after we published an Associated Press story about how only a small fraction of homeowners in Harvey’s path of destruction had flood insurance, which means families impacted “will have to dig deep into their pockets or take on more debt to fix up their homes. Some may be forced to sell, if they can, and leave their communities.” Incidentally, a friend of ours in the insurance business tells us most lenders do require home buyers to have flood insurance, though the latter often let it lapse after mortgage obligations are fulfilled:

Robert C. Duncan: You spend six figures on a piece of property. Why would you not buy insurance?

Katie Messerall: They have insurance but not flood insurance. These are areas that have never flooded before. They would not even think they needed it.

Robert C. Duncan: Houston has flooded several times in the past. I know because I used to live there. I actually have family that still live there.

Melissa Almaguer: Many of the evacuees live in apartments or rent small homes and don’t get renters insurance. Those who own six-figure homes likely have regular insurance but maybe not flood insurance. Though parts of Houston flood regularly, this catastrophe is considered a 500-year flood.

Robert C. Duncan: You don’t buy insurance because something is likely to happen. You buy it for the one time it does happen so that you’re protected. The article isn’t talking about people who rent apartments, it’s talking about homeowners. No area is immune to flooding. To not buy it puts yourself at risk for the off chance it does. Case in point, that’s what happened to these poor souls. I do feel for them, honestly I do, but this should be a learning experience. It never floods where I’m from and I still buy flood insurance for my rental properties. Wouldn’t you know, it paid off when we had a series of severe rain storms last year.

Clark Keller: Most people who are in flood plains are required by their lender to hold flood insurance for the duration of their mortgage, even if there’s no history of flooding.

Jeanne Arnold Searle: I am a native of the Houston area and neither house I’ve owned required flood insurance. However, I have always carried flood insurance on the chance it could flood. Every year there are people in the Houston area who we see on the news saying they have lived in their house for 20-30 years and it never flooded before, and now they have lost everything to flood waters. Carrying insurance or not is like gambling. You are taking a chance. My heart breaks for all the people who are displaced and have lost everything in the floods.

M Teresa Mansolo: That happened to me in 2004 when four hurricanes devastated Florida. I lost everything except for the clothes on my back, a small suitcase of belongings, my car and most of all my life. I did not have renters insurance so FEMA gave me $945. I realized it’s just stuff. I can get more stuff again.