Archive for the tag 'flood insurance'

During the meeting, Marty Golden used a microphone similar to the one in this picture. Photo by Erica Sherman

State Senator Marty Golden covered a range of issues from heroin to flood insurance at a well-attended meeting of the Manhattan Beach Community Group meeting last night.

Here’s the cliff notes to Golden’s appearance:

  • He talked about the high concentration of senior citizens in Brooklyn, especially in the south, and said that this population needed to be respected and not forced out of the borough by increases in taxes.
  • The heroin problem in New York City has reached an all time high, Golden said. The problem is especially acute in Brooklyn, where many children are dying of overdoses. And he blamed lawmakers going easy on drug dealers when they repealed much of the Rockefeller Drug Laws of the 1970s several years ago. Since then, much of the Rockefeller Drug Laws have returned, a point Golden is proud of. “Drug dealers are the bad guys and I want to get them off the streets,” he said.
  • On the point of legalizing weed, Golden said he was against it. “If anyone thinks marijuana isn’t a gateway drug, they’re fooling themselves,” Golden said.
  • When it comes to the “nightmare” of Manhattan Beach residents, Golden wants to build up infrastructure in the area to prevent future flooding. He discussed the possibility of things like flood gates and retainer walls.
  • While on the topic of Superstorm Sandy, Golden is trying to prevent flood insurance from going up for those in flood zones.
  • He also addressed the big news this week about the possibility of a national competition and the New York and New Jersey area losing $1 billion in disaster aid. “We’re all going to stand together to make sure that this money stays here,” he said.

The Shorefront YM-YWHA will be hosting a legal clinic tomorrow, April 10 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. for homeowners who were affected by Superstorm Sandy.

If you were underpaid by your flood insurer, call (646) 786-0887 today to schedule an appointment with a legal professional. A legal professional will help you to prepare a self-made Proof of Loss.

If you wish to attend this clinic, it is important that you RSVP by the end of today.

The Shorefront Y is located at 3300 Coney Island Avenue and they can be contacted by calling (718) 646-1444.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that would scale down scheduled hikes in flood insurance rates that could have seen some homeowners paying 10 times the amount they do now. The bill, the Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014, will now go to the Senate, where it’s expected to pass.

Reuters reports:

With homeowners and businesses facing premiums hikes of up to 10-fold or more as result of a 2-year-old law, the bill would limit annual increases of any individual policy under the National Flood Insurance Program to no more than 18 percent.

The legislation also instructs the Federal Emergency Management Agency to have “an affordability target” that would seek to limit the cost of a flood insurance policy to 1 percent of a home’s total coverage amount.

… The legislation was drafted in response to the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, which was designed to allow premiums to rise to reflect the true risk of living in high-flood areas.

The law was passed to address a $24 billion deficit in the NFIP, which serves about 5 million people and had mounting losses, largely from Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005.

… That law did not stipulate that rates would soar by more than 10 times, but that is what happened to the surprise of lawmakers and consternation of homeowners and small businesses.

grimm

Congressman Michael Grimm has voted twice this week to suppress bringing a bill to the House floor that would delay hikes in flood insurance – even though he’s the sponsor of the bill.

The legislation would postpone increases in flood insurance premiums for four years to protect New York City homeowners from price increases of thousands of dollars. It would also allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency to complete an affordability study based on the new maps, and create a possible new tier of low rates for homeowners placed into a flood zone for the first time due to remapping of at-risk areas.

The hikes were planned prior to Superstorm Sandy, but since the storm legislators have shared concern that it would cause undue harm to middle- and working-class residents of coastal communities, as well as add more suffering to those still recovering from the the October 2012 flood.

The bill passed the Senate last week,and other Brooklyn representatives in the House have demanded a vote.

“Since the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, the families of Gerritsen Beach and Sheepshead Bay have dedicated themselves to the revitalization of their homes and small businesses, with much hard work and at considerable expense. An increase in flood insurance premiums would only increase the difficulty of their efforts, and would almost certainly force some homeowners – especially families living on a fixed income – to move elsewhere,” said Congresswoman Yvette Clarke in a press release last week. “I urge my colleagues to continue supporting for their efforts to rebuild the community and to remain in their homes.”

Grimm is the primary sponsor of the House version of the bill, having introduced it in October 2013. But he has since fallen in line with his Republican colleagues, voting with almost every other member of his party against the Democrats’ motions to force a floor vote.

According to the Daily News, which first reported on the congressman’s turnaround, it was this bill that Grimm referenced when explaining why he lost his cool and threatened to throw a NY1 reporter off a balcony. The congressman said he had lost his temper after a long day “fighting for flood insurance.”

The Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association will be meeting this evening, October 7, at 8:00 p.m. at Public School 195, 131 Irwin Street in Manhattan Beach.

The meeting will feature Stuart Fries, vice president of Garber, Atlas, and Fries Insurance Company, who will give a lengthy presentation about the ins and outs of flood insurance.

It will cover:

  • Why do you need flood insurance?
  • Will you be getting a rate increase?
  • Do you need an elevation certification?

Fries added that he hopes to clear up some confusion about the FEMA flood maps in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.

“I will have a huge CURRENT flood map of this area, plus some smaller Maps, of what to expect with the new FEMA Flood Maps which are supposed to arrive before end of 2014,” Fries wrote to Sheepshead Bites.

Fries will also take questions from the audience, and the meeting is open to everyone from all communities.

To learn more, call (917) 747-5863.

Sheepshead Bay, post-Sandy. Source: U.S. Coast Guard, via the Office of Response and Restoration

Sheepshead Bay, post-Sandy. Source: U.S. Coast Guard, via the Office of Response and Restoration

New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program invites the community to provide input to the Sheepshead Bay/Gerritsen Beach NY Rising Community Reconstruction Plan.

There will be two consecutive meeting dates at different locations, either of which residents are invited to attend:

  • Monday, October 7 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at Waterford on the Bay, 2900 Bragg Street
  • Tuesday, October 8 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at Public School 277, 2529 Gerritsen Avenue

During the meeting you will:

  • Hear about the program and how it can help your community.
  • Provide input to the community’s vision for the future to increase resilience post-Sandy.
  • Tell the New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program what issues you would like addressed in the recovery and mitigation plan.

If you are unable to attend and would like to provide input, visit http://stormrecovery.ny.gov/nyrcr/community/gerritsen-beach-and-sheepshead-bay and submit your comments via the yellow contact button on the right.

You can also join the conversation using the hashtag #NYRising on Twitter (@NYStormRecovery). Follow the New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program on Facebook (NYStormRecovery) or go to www.stormrecovery.ny.gov. For more information, email info@stormrecovery.ny.gov.

Allan Tannenbaum, Untitled, 2012. © Allan Tannenbaum. (Courtesy of ICP via the Epoch Times)

Allan Tannenbaum, Untitled, 2012. © Allan Tannenbaum. (Courtesy of ICP via the Epoch Times)

In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, a common theme circulating in the social and political atmosphere has been one of defiance. The message has been to rebuild and redevelop, even in the most vulnerable coastal communities. A report in Mother Jones is arguing that the attitude of continually trying to defy nature is costly, risky and could very well backfire despite billions in planned improvements.

In their analysis, Mother Jones target comments made by prominent political leaders and suggest that “retreating” from the coastline might be a more a realistic option:

Retreat needs to be considered not as a defeatist last-resort, but as proactive strategy needed in some places.

Take New York City, for example, where Mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed 257 initiatives to be pursued over the next 10 years at an estimated $20 billion. He has repeatedly emphasized that the city “will not retreat from the waterfront.” But it will be hard to stand by this categorical commitment as sea levels continue to rise.

Meanwhile, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed a $400 million home-buyout program, of which a meager $170 million has been HUD-approved. Only homes with damage more than 50 percent of their value are eligible. The Oak Beach community in Staten Island has applied as a pilot program for a community-based buyout, but hasn’t yet been approved. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is encouraging rapid rebuilding while also proposing a limited buyout program. But with no funding set aside for it, he has made clear he prefers to rebuild rather than retreat.

The report lays out the case that rising flood insurance premiums coupled with expensive new building regulations laid out by FEMA create unfavorable options for homeowners trying to live in coastal communities. Previously, we had reported on the new flood lines drawn by FEMA that will drastically increase costs for homeowners in vulnerable areas. For example, if you have a $250,000 home with a ground floor four feet below sea level, and cannot meet FEMA’s new building regulations, you may have to pay $9,500 a year in flood insurance. By comparison, a home hoisted three feet above the flood line will only have to pay $427 a year, but the cost of doing so will be expensive.

It is because of these reasons that the Mother Jones report is advocating other options like buyouts, curtailing development and fixing the infrastructure:

These options should include support for buyouts in mid-Atlantic communities, at least for coastal and estuary locations that are either at elevations of ten feet or less above the local mean higher high tide or 5 feet above the latest mapped FEMA 1 percent per year base flood elevations, whichever is higher. Once buyouts at these elevations are secured, they should progress to higher elevations.

Disallow new residential development in those low-lying elevations unless it is flood-adapted (safely moored and floatable or substantially raised with raised or floodable utility connections). With urgency, local building codes need to be re-written to take this into account, since those specifications don’t yet exist.

Know that flood-protective structures—sea gates, levees, or walls—have limits. To start, sea levels will inevitably surpass their finite design heights. But before that ever happens, they introduce their own collateral hazards. A barrier system meant to protect an estuary or river with considerable discharge could flood communities behind the protective systems.

Develop a set of land-use priorities. Infrastructure, including transportation networks, sewage treatment plants, solid waste facilities, energy supply and distribution systems, utilities, and public health facilities demand the highest priorities for adaptation, whether by protectionaccommodation (some utility distribution systems could be made submergible; other system elements could be raised or made floatable); or by retreat to higher ground. In any case, for this essential infrastructure, higher flood standards need to be considered (such as the 0.2%/year flood elevations), and margins for sea level rise must be added that are in a time horizon commensurate with the expected lifetime of the facility itself. New rights of way will need to be relocated from low-lying areas to higher elevations.

The report even goes as far to suggest creating alternatives to subway systems, which they believe are too vulnerable to constant predicted future flooding, calling for an overhaul of the century old rail system.

Interesting stuff. Whether or not you accept the recommendations in this report, the critical point is that the city is at a crossroads with billions of federal dollars to spend on potential solutions. It is up to our political leaders, engineers and city planners to make sure that they are covering every angle of the recovery process and make decisions that mitigate the full impact of future natural disasters.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

One of the worst consequences of Superstorm Sandy is the inevitable rise of insurance rates which are expected to come on the heels of FEMA’s redrawing of the city’s flood zone lines. The new flood zone lines will force people to both buy expanded flood insurance and make expensive alterations to their homes to meet new regulations.

This mix of new insurance and home construction upgrades are incredibly costly. According to a press release, new legislation sponsored by Senator Charles Schumer hopes to protect homeowners already victimized by Sandy from burdening unneeded expenses.

The proposed legislation is known as the Strengthen, Modernize and Reform the National Flood Insurance Program Act (SMART). If enacted the legislation would delay rate increases by six months after FEMA’s affordability study is complete and allow for an extensive study on how these increased costs will impact communities.

“This legislation ensures that Congress will have the necessary time and data to make changes to National Flood Insurance Program before any premium increases go into effect, so communities aren’t overwhelmed and property values aren’t decimated,” said Schumer.

Here is a list of everything SMART act will do:

  • Delay premium increases until 6 months after FEMA’s affordability study is submitted to Congress.
  • Expedite FEMA’s affordability study. To expedite this, the legislation permits FEMA to use available funds outside of the National Flood Insurance Fund to complete the required study and makes a technical change to the affordability study to ensure the timely completion of the study.
  • Allow properties currently receiving a subsidized rate to keep that rate when sold.
  • Study voluntary community-based flood insurance options which could provide communities with the option to purchase blanket policies for all properties in their communities or a portion of their communities. This could allow for communities to offer more affordable insurance policies to their residents and provide greater incentives for community-wide migration activities.
  • Eliminate penalties on communities for self-financing flood protection. FEMA’s AR and A99 flood-zone categories provide more affordable flood insurance to qualifying communities in the process of flood protection projects. Currently, while flood expenditures on these activities can be fully counted toward community eligible calculations, there is a cap on the amount of state and local funds that may enter this calculation. Proactive communities who are sharing cost burdens with the federal government for flood protection should not be penalized for self-financing these projects. This bill will eliminate the 50% cap on state and local contributions to these projects.
  • Federally funded new construction is currently prohibited in V-zones. In some situations, new construction should be permitted in the V-zone when relocation is impractical, provided the facilities are built to strict, established flood protection standards. These facilities will also be subject to a FEMA evacuation plan to promote the safety of the persons who occupy or access them.

Photo by Erica Sherman

State Senator Marty Golden has scheduled two visits of the New York State Department of Financial Services’ Insurance Response Unit to aid victims in his district who were affected by Superstorm Sandy.

  • Today, March 18 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., the NYS Department of Financial Services Mobile Command Center will be in Sheepshead Bay, on the corner of Sheepshead Bay Road and Emmons Avenue.
  • Tomorrow, March 19 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., the Mobile Command Center will be outside the Gerritsen Beach Public Library, 2808 Gerritsen Avenue.

Staff will be available to assist homeowners and business owners with the following:

  • City, state and federal relief programs and how to get help
  • Questions about the insurance claims process in New York
  • Seeking resolution on your claims with your insurer or bank
  • Filing an official complaint against an insurer or bank

Anyone who can’t visit the Mobile Command Center in person can file complaints through the New York State Disaster Relief website, www.nyinsure.ny.gov or by calling the Disaster Relief Hotline, (800) 339-1759, Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 pm.

Source: Wikimedia Commons via Wikipedia

Congressmen Michael Grimm and Gregory Meeks were joined by colleagues Charles Rangel, Jerrold Nadler and Eliot Engle to introduce the Flood Victim Premium Relief Act 2013 (H.R. 960), a bill which aims to delay flood insurance hikes for Superstorm Sandy victims, according to a report by SI Live.

In a release issued by Congressman Grimm, the bill extends “the premium increase timeline for primary residences in areas that have been declared a federal disaster area after July 6, 2012 from 5 years to 8 years.”

Grimm expressed the importance this bill will play in helping homeowners make it through these tough times.

“If we allow flood premiums to increase on their current schedule, based on the new maps, homeowners are going to be in an impossible position of trying to both pay their mortgage as well as increased flood premiums that may rise over $10,000 in some cases. This situation will almost certainly lead to a surge in defaults and foreclosures and cost the taxpayers vast sums via the government’s exposure to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the FHA. Allowing an extra three years to increase premiums will give both homeowners and localities time make smart, long term flood mitigation and rebuilding plans.”

The bill, a bipartisan effort, has received support from Congressman Hakeem Jeffries.

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