Government’s unjust flood disaster policies make no sense

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To the editor:

A newspaper article described a family in Brigantine that had 6 inches of sludge on their first floor from Sandy.  With no flood insurance, this family received help from local charitable organizations in the form of materials and volunteers and now that family is beginning to recovery. 

Since Sandy was labeled a disaster, this family also received $13,000 from FEMA even though they had no flood insurance. However, receiving disaster relief aid (not National Flood Insurance Program funds) sends the message that although homes in a flood zone should carry flood insurance, it is not a necessary component in order to be eligible to receive government financial aid if that flood was caused by a natural disaster.  

Supporting this message was Gov. Christie announcing that New Jersey is receiving $1.8 billion in Community Development Block Grant disaster recovery funding for housing and infrastructure restorations in disaster impacted areas “that are not otherwise covered by insurance, NFIP, SBA or other sources.”    

So here are the “lessons” learned from our government:

1. Sandy was the worst storm to hit New Jersey ever. 

2. Since Sandy was declared a disaster, any storm as severe as Sandy would also be declared a disaster. 

3. If a home experienced flood damage for the first time due to Sandy, chances are that any future storms/floods as severe would also be labeled a disaster. 

4.  If a home owner did not have home flood insurance coverage, that home owner is still eligible to receive government financial aid to recover/repair their home.

5. Even if a home owner had home flood insurance and had no flood damage or loss claim due to Sandy, their flood insurance premiums will be increasing significantly.

6. Even if a home owner had flood insurance and had no flood damage or loss claim, and said home does not meet the new FEMA flood map requirements, that home owner would be subjected to increased flood insurance premiums (approximately 10 percent and 25 percent per year) and would also be subjected to financial penalties if the property does not meet the new FEMA map requirements/zones.

Now I ask someone to please explain:

1. How does a law (Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act) that was intended to provide economic relief for residents, increase property flood insurance premiums between 10 percent and 25 percent per year?  

2. If FEMA is now required to operate without federal subsidies, how is it the federal government gives away money to home owners that did not have flood insurance? 

3. How is it justified to increase flood insurance premiums significantly on a home that experienced no flood damage due to Sandy? 

4. How is it justified to assess financial penalties on a home because they do not meet the new flood map requirements, even if that home did not experience any flood damage from Sandy? 

And finally:

5. How is it that FEMA is in charge of setting the new flood elevations and building codes while also setting the cost of flood insurance?  Does the adage about the fox watching the hen house ring a bell? 

The Army Corps of Engineers, not FEMA, should be the agency in charge of establishing the new flood map requirements.  This eliminates any improprieties and/or vested interest FEMA has in determining flood insurance premiums.

Any home that had flood insurance prior to Sandy and did not experience flood damage should not be subjected to an increase in flood insurance premiums. 

Any home that was not covered by flood insurance and receives government aid due to flood damage should be subjected to a mandatory flood insurance policy/premium for a period of not less than five years. 

If we all stand by and accept change that makes little to no sense and basically amounts to injustice, injustice is what we deserve.

Frank X. Cavallaro


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