Menendez, Pallone Visit Union Beach to Push Sweeping Flood Insurance Reforms to Fix Problems Exposed by Sandy
UNION BEACH, N.J. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), chair of the Sandy Task Force and a senior member of the Senate Banking Committee that oversees the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), and Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (N.J.-06), traveled today to Union Beach—a community on Raritan Bay devastated by Superstorm Sandy—to lay out proposed sweeping reforms to address the waste, abuse and mismanagement plaguing the system that led to delayed recovery for Sandy survivors.
In June, Sen. Menendez introduced comprehensive, bipartisan legislation, cosponsored by nearly a dozen Republicans and Democrats including Sen. Cory Booker, to extend the NFIP for six years while instituting a series of sweeping reforms. Reps. Pallone and Bill Pascrell, Jr. (N.J.-09) later introduced companion legislation in the House.
“This legislation puts the lessons we learned after Superstorm Sandy into action, levels the playing field for policyholders, and attacks the rampant waste and abuse in the National Flood Insurance Program to create real savings and greater investment in mitigation and resiliency efforts to make our residents and communities safer,” said Sen. Menendez. “If we want a more sustainable system, the answer isn’t to slam homeowners with even higher premiums. Americans deserve a National Flood Insurance Program that is sustainable for taxpayers, affordable for homeowners, and accountable to everyone.”
“Superstorm Sandy devastated many communities in my district. In the wake of the storm, too many of my constituents found that, after responsibly paying for their flood insurance, their policy failed to provide the coverage they needed and deserved when they needed it the most. Many were prevented from repairing their homes and resuming their lives by a claims review process that moved too slowly and was riddled with fraud. As this was happening and people were suffering, the flood insurance companies made record profits.” said Rep. Pallone. “The SAFE NFIP Act takes concrete steps to make the program more affordable, increase oversight and transparency of the flood insurance companies, invest in mitigation efforts, and reform the claims process using lessons learned from Sandy. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to fight for this bill and our constituents.”
“Hurricane Sandy underscored how vital the National Flood Insurance Program is to helping people rebuild their lives,” said Sen. Booker. “Unfortunately, this devastating storm also revealed the need to reform the NFIP and make sure FEMA better serves New Jerseyans by eliminating agency waste and mismanagement. This legislation takes common sense steps toward making coverage more affordable, extending coverage to those who need it most, and investing in pre-disaster flood control and mitigation efforts that will help protect New Jersey families.”
“At every turn my constituents faced obstacles in getting the support needed to repair their businesses and homes after Sandy. And they were frustrated by the waste, fraud, and abuse that plagued the claims review process. I am pleased to find fixes to these issues by joining Senator Menendez and Congressman Pallone on the bipartisan SAFE NFIP Act,” said Rep. Pascrell. “The SAFE NFIP Act creates investments in pre-disaster flood control and mitigation efforts, increases oversight and transparency of the flood insurance companies, and reforms the claims process in order to help protect New Jersey families in the future. We must use the opportunity to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program to make smart improvements before the next storm hits our nation’s shores and prevent our constituents from being left holding the bag.”
The Sustainable, Affordable, Fair, and Efficient (SAFE) National Flood Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2017 tackles systemic problems with flood insurance, puts it back on solid fiscal ground, and reframes our nation’s entire disaster paradigm to one that focuses more on prevention and mitigation to spare the high cost of rebuilding after flood disasters.
Sen. Menendez and Rep. Pallone stood today on the Union Beach waterfront at a news conference with Mayor Paul Smith, local officials, advocates and Sandy survivors.
SAFE NFIP addresses critical problems with the program, administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), following Superstorm Sandy and other disasters: unsustainability, low participation rates, inaccurate flood maps, an indifference to the benefits of flood control infrastructure, agency mismanagement, unsustainable debt service costs and contractor profiteering.
The bipartisan Senate bill led by Sens. Menendez and John Kennedy (R-La.) is cosponsored by Booker, Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) Thad Cochran (R-Miss), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.). The bipartisan House bill is cosponsored by Reps. Pallone, Pascrell, Albio Sires (D-N.J.-08), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J,-12), Donald M. Payne, Jr. (D-N.J,-10), Mike Johnson (R-La.), Gregg Harper (R-Miss.-3), Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.-4), Charlie Christ (D-Fla.-13), Carlos Curbelo (D-Fla.-26), Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.-20), and Clay Higgins (R-La.-3).