2014-02-07 / Editorial/Opinion

It’s A Long-haul Battle


Who Is Sandbagging Rockaway’s Beaches? Who Is Sandbagging Rockaway’s Beaches? We get the question often enough, what’s happening with flood insurance? Followed up by, you think it’s really going to happen?

Well, the latest update is this: the United States Senate voted to pass the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act in a bipartisan 67-32 vote. A lot of the sentiment behind the Yes votes centered on the fact that FEMA did not complete an affordability study – as it was required to do in the 2012 Biggert-Waters Act. FEMA’s failure to conduct the study gave some Senators the cover they needed to vote yes. They might be fiscal conservatives and represent constituents who want to remove all subsidies but FEMA’s failure allows them to say, hold on, we’re just telling FEMA to finish its job.

While FEMA completes it study, which just got underway and is likely to take 18 months, legislators can get to work reexamining the many inherent dangers and consequences of Biggert- Waters.

Craig Fugate, the director of FEMA, knows ridiculous rates are in play but says he can’t fix them. In an appearance before the Senate he said ”Let me put my cards on the table. I need your help.” That’s about as plain as someone can say congress needs to do something.

The current snag is in the House, the congress. With the Senate bill approved, congress could have acted immediately to vote on it. They declined to do so on Tuesday. Two weeks earlier, House Speaker John Boehner said the GOP-controlled House would not vote take up legislation (i.e. the Senate vote) that would delay or amend Biggert-Waters.

Fortunately, Boehner won’t necessarily have the last say. Many House Republicans are hearing from their constituents about the horrific consequences of Biggert-Waters. Michael Grimm, republican from Staten Island, said one reason he lost his temper and threatened a NY1 reporter was because he was overtired from working so hard on the flood insurance issue.

While we don’t want representatives threatening to throw people off balconies, we do want and need tenacity from all area reps from both sides. There are editorial writers across the country using the red herring – flood insurance subsidies are for oceanfront mansion owners. They are using this misleading propaganda to influence congress.

Our area reps – Meeks, King, Grimm, Nadler, Jeffries, Clarke, and others must do more than make floor speeches. They’ve got to do a little bit of research to find out which of their colleagues represent people who live near rivers or low lying areas. They’ve got to educate their colleagues. They’ve got to show them the FEMA rate maps.

FEMA says they need help. The problem is, a lot of people in Congress need help.

So the answer to the second question – do we really think the worst is going to happen? It will if we get complacent. We’ve encouraged our readers to call Schumer, Meeks, and Gillibrand. Keep doing so. Keep after them. They’ve got to move their recalcitrant colleagues.

And go online and look up Stop FEMA Now. The group is growing and needs to keep momentum. You shouldn’t sit on the sidelines for this. You can help.

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