Fulfilling promise made on Sandy 6th Anniversary

Monday, April 8, 2019

NEPTUNE, N.J. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, chair of the Sandy Task Force, today joined Governor Phil Murphy, and Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (N.J.-06) to announce the federal approval for the state to redirect millions in Sandy aid to help Superstorm Sandy survivors finish rebuilding their homes and get back on their feet.

“The 1,200 or so New Jerseyans who remain in the state rebuilding program have been through hell and back again. Some were defrauded by their building contractor; some had to spend tens of thousands of dollars fighting flood insurance companies in court; and some remain paralyzed by the fear of dreaded claw-back letters,” said Sen. Menendez. “These Sandy survivors have faced many different obstacles. But at the end of the day they all share the same dream of returning home and getting on with their lives. Their marathon is not yet over but today the finish line is on the horizon, and the day they can return home is within reach.” 

Sens. Menendez and Cory Booker, Gov. Murphy and Rep. Pallone marked the six-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy in Union Beach last year where they originally announced these plans to further aid Sandy survivors. The key steps include:

  • The creation of a $50 million Supplemental Fund that will help Sandy survivors rebuild their homes. Funding for the program originates from the 2013 Sandy relief packagethat Sen. Menendez fought tirelessly to pass through Congress. 
  • Extending the Rental Assistance Program (RAP) by an additional 19 months for a total of 40 months for Sandy survivors who are still rebuilding and not yet back in their homes. 
  • Freezing all claw backs of Sandy aid. In 2017, Sen. Menendez and Rep. Pallone introduced legislation to prevent claw backs of federal disaster assistance from victims of Sandy. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has clawed back almost $3 million from more than 750 Sandy survivors. 
  • Eliminating the $150,000 cap on grants for homeowners to finish rebuilding, repairing and elevating their homes.

Sen. Menendez has been the leading voice in Congress to ensure Sandy victims have the resources necessary to rebuild and that the federal government is treating them fairly. 

He’s the author of the comprehensive, bipartisan legislation known as the Sustainable, Affordable, Fair, and Efficient National Flood Insurance Program (SAFE NFIP). The bill, which was co-sponsored by Sen. Booker and in the House by Rep. Pallone, would remedy the problems of the current flood insurance program that caused so many Sandy survivors to suffer in the wake of the storm.

The SAFE NFIP Act would extend the federal flood insurance program for six years while instituting a series of sweeping reforms. The bill authorizes significant investment in mitigation and resiliency efforts to reduce flood risk, while addressing critical problems that arose following Superstorm Sandy and other disasters, namely: 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 senator successfully pressed FEMA to reopen all Sandy claims, intimating a review process that led to policyholders getting an additional $260 million to rebuild their homes. SAFE NFIP would ensure survivors of devastating flooding never go through what Sandy survivors experienced after the storm.

Sen. Menendez first exposed the problem of widespread lowballing of flood insurance claims during Congressional hearings he chaired in 2014. 

Sen. Menendez authored the Superstorm Sandy Relief and Disaster Loan Program Improvement Act, signed into law in 2017, which extended and expanded access to federal disaster loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). His Homeowner’s Flood Insurance Affordability Act was signed into law in 2014 to address skyrocketing rates many Sandy survivors were encountering.

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