2013-10-04 / Front Page

Folks Flood Stop FEMA Rally

By Kevin Boyle

Photos by Dan Guarino, John Cori and Brianne Barry. Photos by Dan Guarino, John Cori and Brianne Barry. As hundreds filled the Broad Channel American Legion Hall, hundreds more gathered outside. The overflow crowd made it clear there is widespread sentiment to Stop FEMA Now. Rallies to fight exorbitant flood insurance premiums were held in nine states on Saturday, September 28th. The local rendition was full of concerned citizens from Broad Channel, Rockaway, Breezy Point, and Howard Beach.

Dan Mundy Jr., president of the Broad Channel Civic Association, hosted the event which drew the large crowd and attracted national media attention. Mundy was joined on stage by community leaders, elected officials or their representatives.

In a stirring presentation, Mundy got the crowd engaged by recognizing the presence of people from various neighborhoods. Shouts and applause rang out when he asked “Who’s here from Belle Harbor? How about Howard Beach?” The same occurred when he recognized Breezy Point, Hamilton Beach, and Rockaway Beach, and the hometown crowd of Broad Channel.

Mundy summarized the challenges communities face because of the Biggert-Waters Act passed into law in July, 2012. Reminding the crowd that it is actual law and that for many it would threaten their biggest asset: the value of their home. “This law will cause a huge reduction in home values and in some cases will lead to foreclosure.

“Some reports have you believe we’re all millionaires in our neighborhoods. Well, we know who lives in our neighborhoods. People who live here are the people who pick up your garbage, teach your kids, keep you safe from bad guys, and run into burning buildings. That’s who we have here.”

For real change to occur in the law, Congress must repeal or amend the law. “Our goal is to send a message to Congress that Biggert-Waters was a mistake and we want to see it fixed,” Mundy said.

Joe Edwards, a representative for Congressman Meeks who did not attend the rally because he was in Washington dealing with matters of the government shutdown, told the crowd that Meeks had co-authored a bill that would stretch out the premium hikes over more years. Many find this unsatisfactory. Delaying the premiums is missing the point, they say. Premiums should never reach 20 or 30 thousand dollars a year. Edwards said Meeks’s move was just a first step and that “we get it. Believe me, we get it.”

Councilman Eric Ulrich told the crowd that the City Council had passed a resolution calling for the repeal of the Biggert-Waters Act. Although mostly symbolic because it is a federal issue, Ulrich said the vote was unanimous, which is rare in the City Council, and indicates how the City as a whole is in support of its coastal communities.

Perhaps the biggest cheer came in response to John Calcagnine of Howard Beach who said “I just want to stress. If our government can send billions and billions of dollars overseas to our friends and foes who use the money against us, why can’t our government help our coastal communities? ”

The rally effort was also supported by individuals and civic groups who provided phone numbers of elected officials. Those who came to the rally were encouraged to call, write, and email Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand, Congressman Meeks and Congressman Jeffries.

To get involved with what will be a continuing cause or to get more information, contact your local civic association or see Stop FEMA Now on Facebook.

CB 14 Meeting: Boardwalk News

The NYC Parks Department and the design firm, CH2MHill, will make a presentation at the monthly Community Board meeting on Tuesday, October 8th at Scholars’ Academy, 320 Beach 104th Street. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Those looking to speak during the public speaking session are required to sign up 15 minutes before the meeting begins.

Parks and CH2MHill held three public meetings last week to hear concerns and get feedback from community members regarding coastal protection, boardwalk design, and recreation.

Construction of the new boardwalk is scheduled to begin by the end of the year. A completion date has not been set.

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