2013-06-21 / Editorial/Opinion

Stop FEMA Now

Most of Rockaway will end up in the costly A Zone when flood maps are finally adopted. If you’ve got a basement you could be looking at a flood premium of somewhere between $10,000 to $30,000 per year. If you have a mortgage and weren’t required to carry flood insurance before and now you’re in the A Zone the banks will insist that you buy flood insurance. The ramifications of runaway insurance threaten communities everywhere.

The Wave has been beating this drum for months. And will continue to do so. Fighting these premiums will be a slog, a long drawn out battle. But sitting on the sidelines and hoping things get better is not an option.

We cannot rely on our elected officials to fight the way they need to fight. We see and hear them saying the right things to us. Big deal. Remember, these are the elected officials who voted in favor of the Biggert-Waters Act, the law that triggers skyrocketing flood premiums. They’ve now got to get in the face of their colleagues and tell them this has to be fixed. Are we to simply believe them when they say they are fighting for us. No damn way.

FEMA has been wrong and unclear at every turn. FEMA told us to apply for SBA loans even though they should have known CDBG grants would be coming. FEMA said only science could change the preliminary maps they issued in January. Well, there were significant changes in many areas. That means their science (or politics) was wrong.

As part of Biggert-Waters, FEMA was mandated to have completed an affordability study by now. They haven’t even started it. Let’s repeat that one: they haven’t started the study yet. And they expect to go unchallenged when telling people they’ll owe $30,000 a year in flood insurance premiums. Really, it’s time to Stop FEMA Now.

FEMA mismanaged its way into insolvency when Katrina hit. They want us to bail them out. We say be wary of bailouts (and the “world is ending” rhetoric that is used whenever a bailout is called for).

FEMA told The Wave – we have it in writing – that owners could assign their current X zones to new policy holders. But when we asked about grandfathering a FEMA official told us “they’re still talking about that.”

You know those expensive lifeguard and comfort stations Rockaway has now? FEMA is reimbursing the New York City Parks Department more than $50 million dollars for the money spent on those trailers. If FEMA is okay with spending that kind of money that may explain why they think $30,000 a year flood insurance is reasonable and necessary.

FEMA is often wrong, wrong, and wrong and we’re not the only ones saying it. Consider this. Congressman Westmoreland from Georgia who voted against an amendment that would have stalled premium increases said through a spokesperson:

“There are currently a lot of unknowns and it would be irresponsible for FEMA to provide premium estimates with flawed data. Instead, we should hold a congressional hearing on this matter. When you are talking about flood insurance, you are dealing with very complicated issues with a lot of variables. In a hearing, FEMA can provide technical experts and directly answer questions from Members on both sides of this issue. Through these hearings, Congress can accurately and completely conduct the in-depth oversight required for this program and determine if additional legislative action is needed.”

What are Meeks, Schumer, and Gillibrand waiting for? There’s a congressman from Georgia saying there should be hearings. Well, get to it !! Don’t tell us you’re fighting when opportunities like this are staring you in the face. Are you kidding? Start hearings. Find out why FEMA hasn’t done its study. Find out how FEMA comes up with its actuarial costs.

ALL fifty states have towns with A Zones. Our reps should get with the reps of those places now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. There’s common ground in all fifty states.

You should call our politicians but you don’t have to stop there. Send an email to StopFemaNow@ Gmail.com or find them on FaceBook. StopFemaNow is a grassroots group that’s growing and putting pressure on people who can make changes. Or send an email to a local guy, David Fortunoff, who’s mad as hell and doesn’t want to take it anymore. He wants our reps to go after FEMA and says “No Flood Insurance Taxation Without Representation!” He’s getting people to write letters and is starting a local effort to have politicians work to find solutions to insurance costs that can destroy neighborhoods. Email him at david@ewbrushes.com. You can do something by helping this Rockaway grassroots effort.

Yes, you can help Stop FEMA Now.

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