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SPOTLIGHT

1. RISK:

As flood threats rise, federal reform to diversify the insurance risk sinks

It was a few hours before Sharron Voorhees was scheduled to sign a new home loan when her bank canceled the closing appointment because she had private flood insurance. Two more cancellations followed, based on the bank's concern that Voorhees had purchased coverage from Lloyd's of London rather than the U.S. government. Her venture into alternative insurance is a microcosm of Washington's failed attempts to reform a federal program that gobbles up huge chunks of the nation's flood risk, making it a matter of course that federal taxpayers shoulder almost the entire burden of the most expensive natural disaster damage, which is flooding.

2. OCEANS:

Storm surges, rising seas could doom Pacific islands this century -- USGS

As ice caps melt and sea levels rise, islands around the world could eventually become completely submerged, like real-world cities of Atlantis. Scientists have determined that the tides could consume low-lying islands in the next 50 to 150 years. But they'll become uninhabitable well before they're underwater, and that day might not be in the too distant future.

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