Pallone Presses New FEMA Administrator to Act Swiftly on Sandy Claims

Jul 6, 2017 Issues: Environment, Hurricane Sandy, New Jersey

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) sent a letter to the new Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator William B. Long, raising concerns over the agency’s lack of action in resolving flood insurance claims from Superstorm Sandy. He asked that the agency take swift action on behalf of those who have suffered from documented, widespread fraud perpetrated by private insurance companies in the aftermath of the storm. 

“My constituents and I continue to be outraged by the unacceptable delays in processing claims for Sandy victims.” said Pallone. “FEMA has a responsibility to implement processes to ensure that disaster victims get the resources they are rightfully owed and it is imperative that it take action immediately. Sandy victims deserve much better than what FEMA has given them and I will be working with Administrator Long to make sure that his agency is held accountable.”

The Congressman has been a leader in demanding transparency and reforms for those who have suffered from inefficiencies and widespread fraud in the National Flood Insurance Program. In June the Congressman voiced his support for comprehensive flood insurance reform introduced in the Senate. 

Last May, Pallone led a bipartisan letter from members of the New Jersey Congressional delegation to Administrator Fugate of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) requesting that it immediately resolve unfinished claims. The lawmakers asked for an explanation of why it is taking FEMA so long to process the insurance claims of these victims and to detail the steps FEMA is taking to swiftly rectify the situation. After that letter was sent, Pallone and Congressman Bill Pascrell (NJ-09) met with Roy Wright, Deputy Associate Administrator for Insurance and Mitigation at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to again demand that immediate steps be taken.

In October Congressman Pallone introduced the Flood Insurance Reimbursement Standards Transparency (FIRST) Cap Profits Act, which would require increased oversight and transparency of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and to cap the profits of private companies providing flood insurance at 10%.

The text of the letter can be found below.

 

 

July 6, 2017

 

William B. Long

Administrator

Federal Emergency Management Agency

U.S. Department of Homeland Security

500 C Street SW

Washington, DC 20472

 

Dear Administrator Long:

I write raise your attention to a longstanding problem facing my constituents. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has moved at a snail’s pace in resolving flood insurance claims from Superstorm Sandy, and the people of New Jersey cannot afford to wait any longer.   I ask that you work to resolve the Sandy claims review process as quickly and efficiently as possible. I respectfully request a meeting with you to discuss this issue at your earliest convenience.

Superstorm Sandy struck the East Coast of the United States in 2012, causing enormous economic damage and loss of life. New Jersey was hit particularly hard, with some communities in my Congressional district among the most heavily damaged. Many Sandy victims had flood insurance, which should have helped support a quick recovery from the damage. However, many policyholders were underpaid, some severely, and allegations of fraud and incompetence have been leveled at FEMA’s handling of payouts.

In 2015, I helped lead my Congressional colleagues in demanding that FEMA open a flood insurance claims review process, so that policy holders who believed that they had been underpaid after Sandy would have the opportunity to appeal. While this process should have helped expedite the claims process, it has become an object of scorn and exasperation for victims who have been bogged down in a never ending administrative process with no end in sight.

Completing the claims process quickly has long been a top priority for me. I spoke with Roy Wright, Deputy Associate Administrator for Insurance and Mitigation, in May 2016 and he assured me that the agency was making substantive progress and would have fully processed all claims by the end of that summer. As of FEMA’s most recent status report in mid-June, 17 percent of claims remain open. Sandy victims deserve much better than what FEMA has given them.

As you begin your tenure as FEMA Administrator, you will need to balance competing priorities and concerns. Wrapping up the Sandy claims review process should be at the top of your list. I look forward to working with you on this important issue.

 

Sincerely,

 

FRANK PALLONE, JR.                                                      

Member of Congress