Business of Disaster (full documentary) | FRONTLINE

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Who profits when disaster strikes? FRONTLINE & NPR investigates how much insurance companies profit after a natural disaster. (Aired 2016)

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When Superstorm Sandy made landfall in October of 2012, the historic natural disaster killed more than 100 people and caused catastrophic damage along the Eastern seaboard. “Business of Disaster” puts two key parts of the disaster recovery system under scrutiny: the special housing aid Congress gives to local governments after major disasters, and the National Flood Insurance Program that’s run by the Federal Emergency Management Administration. Major insurance companies declined to be interviewed, but FRONTLINE and NPR spent months working to track their profit numbers down. With storms expected to grow in frequency and intensity, this joint investigation raises troubling questions about disaster relief in America.

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Funding for FRONTLINE is provided through the support of PBS viewers and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Major funding for FRONTLINE is provided by the Abrams Foundation; the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; Park Foundation; and the FRONTLINE Journalism Fund with major support from Jon and Jo Ann Hagler on behalf of the Jon L. Hagler Foundation, and additional support from Koo and Patricia Yuen.

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31 Responses

  1. 5tay Tuned says:

    I remember a group of bikers that did more for our neighborhood than FEMA and the red cross ever did. They came with food and water and generators to charge our phones, they were there for about 2 months. Red Cross gave us weird tasting water and MREs, once. I'll never forget that WE the people are the ones that help not the politicians.

  2. RWHEEL FUN says:


  3. Trez says:

    Thank you pbs! As a hurricane Katrina victim , you should expect nothing from the govt sadly

  4. Danny Hughes says:

    With Global Warming on the horizon would it not be more prudent to build house boats and sight them on the land currently vacant ?
    In land starved Holland such houses are being built on lakes and quiet foreshores so that as water levels rise the houses elevate while being supported between 2 Concrete piers.
    While living near the water is attractive what is the use of sinking funds into rebuilding conventionally in flood plains only to see it all washed away in the next serious storm?.
    Unless of course it is a huge money making enterprise for a lot of people … the Glazier who pays kids to break windows to drum up business when times are quiet.

  5. john johnson says:

    when you stand in something like that you understand when nature goes , you will not stop it, and when you are going through the rubble you realize that things dont matter. People matter.

  6. Mohammed Jelani says:

    Americans build their homes with woods, plastics and papers!. The only solution for the Americans is, to leave the earth to Mars! To escape suffering from horrible and deadly volcanoes earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes and floods forever!.

  7. Anders Larsen says:

    Insurance business is a criminal enterprise. It does not matter where in the world they operate.

  8. recklessjunkie says:

    Just chalk it up to earth movement I guess.

  9. Dawn Eipeldauer - a wandering nomad says:

    Typical crooks from USA

  10. Janelle Gard says:

    The Insurance industry is THE MOST CORRUPT THERE IS!!! They are the MONEY behind BAIL BONDS..enough said

  11. Stanton Wilkerson says:

    I can tell you from experience the grapple side of clean up of trees and debris is a huge scam huge money scam

  12. marqy007 says:

    At the end of your yearly policy, with no claims, has anyone walked into your insurance office and asked for a little payback? Did they laugh you out the door? Insurance is the king of craps! They produce nothing, push paper/keyboards and collect money…

  13. Steve Johnson says:

    We should consider nationalizing all insurance. Health, life, home, and automobile. Since we only deal with insurance when we are the most vulnerable we don't have the ability to select a different provider like most other free market transactions. I think we should ban private insurance and use a bloated inefficient government to service insurance. I'm not a fan of government, but I don't see the free market benefit like other goods or services.

  14. Jane A says:

    Privatization of our government and its protections for human life … win stupid prizes. Corporate Profit doesn’t care if you lose everything.

  15. Eddie Lloyd says:

    stop building mickey mouse houses ,especially at sea level ,,simple solution

  16. Yahsararel Ben Yahcèph says:

    Welcome to America, you are now blaxk

  17. Wizard says:

    reporter asked the dumbest questions ever

  18. R L says:

    He didn't give a rats fucking ass about anyone.

  19. Theseustoo Astyages says:

    Q: What's the difference between insurance and a protection racket?

    A: No… I don't know either! :/

  20. Dazzling Extremes says:

    Paying a MORTGAGE and FLOOD insurance on a home that isnt standing is INSANE…. These things should have an auto pause until rebuilt. I bet you then theyd all work it out and get the rebuilding done.

  21. John Lea says:

    CAPITALISM CANT WORK FOREVER when building a said country it works but over time everything is about ripping each other off not moving society forward example we have ability to make cars last 50yrs so why do they start breaking at 3-5 years CAPITALISM…..

  22. Josh Randall says:

    Corporate Media also profits from it. The Climate Change cult also profits from it. Politicians also profits from it. "Never let a crisis go to waste."

  23. Reginald Morton says:

    This is capitalism…. why does everyone see any wrong?… ruthless profit making USA

  24. Saras Watkin says:

    Insurance companies should all be prosecuted when they refuse to pay up. They pay investigators to get out of paying its all racketeering and misselling. Ask yourself who started "insurance" business. They just made themselves legal and global and they thrive on chaos.

  25. American Samurai. says:

    People who are victims of circumstance should have our full respect and help in bad times.

  26. Armando Hajos says:

    it really is the end of the world it is since 2000 years when jesus first came now is just at its peak, for god 1 thousand years is a second and a second is 1 thousand years! the sign 666 will be keeping sunday as day of worship! you heared me right! the 4th comandement in the ten laws is keep my sabats ,that shall be a sign between me and you, it was refering to the jews, but the bible has 100 precent actuality and 100 precent do as god said no matter the times! the godgiven day of worship the sabath is saturday not sunday! sunday was the first day of the weak, vatican and the popes changed it , claiming they have is autorityn as the pope is god on earth, ruler of heavens earth and hell! now this is the bigest blasphemy somone claiming hes god! the pope already met with all worlds leaders, political-religious-and the 1precent wealthiest people on earth the illuminatis A class luciferian puppets! they met saying they discuss the climate change problem! what happened when jesus was crucified , saying that is better for one man to die than the whole people to be in disagreement, this is text book what will happen these days, youl hear this soon enough,! as inflation and economy, the famens the climate calamities , wile keep growing in intensity, whatever they do it by harpp projects or some ar really god let to happen, as its all predicted in Daniel prophet and apocalypse! the fear the teror the need for a solution will expend, ! all this problems will be blaimed on those who refuse to worship sunday , the sign of the pope, and everything will be blamed on this few people who refuse to bow in front of vatican (sunday)! text book what happened with jesus will happen to those who refuse popes autority who claims he is god, and all this wrath is beacouse this public enemys refuse to listen to him! but lucifer was defeated in heavens, was defeated at the cruce, and will be defeated in the end! for those who understand jesuses died for all sins , and all sinners, no man is reedemed by his deeds but by gods grace, and the holy spirit who strenghtens those who care only about what the bible says , and refuse to worship a man given day! evrything is mad for people to be blind to this: "ego" "music" "brandi love", its all made to sell you a false sense of utopia and comfort, meanwille you neglect this most precious times ever on earth! whoever has bible questions, pls feel free tontext me!

  27. Jorge Contreras says:

    Those lawyers are only missing a pitchfork and red pajamas. All of them

  28. anthony tran says:

    It does not matter what you know, it DEPENDS who you below !!!

  29. Sam Rock Jr. says:

    Tell them to give that money to the Amish an your home be done in a year. No problem. They wont cough it up.

  30. Road Trippin says:

    Yea Sandy and Katrina all those thing the insurance gets paid big time. After Katrina & rita they said flooding wasn't covered with the hurricane protection everyone had to have as part of homeowner's insurance. Insurance is the biggest scam going period.

  31. Dbky Here says:

    This isn’t why people sign up to be protected. I feel for all who have had to wait.

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