New Jersey's congressional delegation wants answers from Washington over the slow pace of resolving flood insurance claims from Superstorm Sandy.
U.S. Reps. Jon Runyan, Scott Garrett, Frank LoBiondo, Chris Smith, Frank Pallone, Albio Sires, Bill Pascrell, Rush Holt, Rodney Frelinghuysen, as well as U.S. Sens. Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez, sent a letter to the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency seeking answers about the backlog.
The letter was authored by Runyan and Garrett and points out it has been three months since Sandy hammered New Jersey, and further states that according to Gov. Chris Christie’s office, despite the National Flood Insurance Program having a significantly smaller amount of claims than private flood insurers, only 30 percent of NFIP claims have been resolved as of Feb. 5.
The full letter to FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate is as follows:
Dear Administrator Fugate,
We write you today to express our growing concern with the length of time it is taking to process National Flood Insurance policy claims in New Jersey. Governor Chris Christie recently brought to our attention some rather disturbing statistics related to the backlog of claims. According to the Governor, as of February 5, more than 85 percent of Hurricane Sandy related private homeowners’ insurance claims have been closed while only 30 percent of Sandy related National Flood Insurance claims have been closed.
New Jerseyans have suffered tremendous hardships since Hurricane Sandy struck last fall. We must do everything we can to respond to them as quickly as possible, but right now the National Flood Insurance Program is failing our constituents. It’s been over three months since Hurricane Sandy tore through our state and yet 70 percent of those who filed claims with the NFIP continue to wait. This is unacceptable. According to the Governor’s office this backlog exists despite the fact there were 241,000 fewer national flood insurance claims than private homeowners insurance claims.
We understand that after a natural disaster the size and scope of Sandy there might be a backlog, but these statistics are alarming. These unacceptable backlogs must be addressed quickly so that our constituents can rebuild their homes. In order to ensure that this problem is addressed in a timely manner we ask that you please provide us a detailed description of how you plan to address the backlog of claims.
We thank you for your time and look forward to your response.
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"Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, a Hudson County Democrat, is balking. He claimed Tuesday that members of his caucus are divided over the measure and that his house is in no real rush – besides, even if enacted this year, the reforms would not take effect until 2017, he said. And with the growing belief that Christie could skip town to run for president, some Democrats are not eager to give him another talking point for his résumé. Christie’s plans to stump for Republican candidates in New Hampshire later Thursday only fuel that suspicion." - columnist Charles Stile- The Bergen Record
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