Illustration by Tim Peacock
Reading Time: 14 minutes

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BROOKLYN, N.Y. — When Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012, Thalia Panton watched in disbelief as floodwaters careened down her quiet, tree-lined street in Canarsie, Brooklyn. Sparks flew from downed electrical lines as rushing rapids rose past her thighs.

The water receded as quickly as it appeared. But the damage was done. When the skies cleared, Panton was left with $60,000 in losses. The basement had flooded, damaging musical instruments her husband and son use for their gigs as well as electrical equipment that kept the house running. Panton and her neighbors didn’t get flood insurance until after Sandy because Canarsie wasn’t considered a major flood risk at the time of the storm.