2017-11-01 / Front Page

Pheffer Amato-Led Working Group Lays Out Priorities for National Flood Insurance Reauthorization

Mark Sandy Anniversary; Advocate “Now as Leaders, Not Victims” Deliver Priorities for South Queens, “Informed by 5Y on the Ground”
On Sunday, October 29th, Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Broad Channel) and a working group she convened marked the five-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, with a list of legislative recommendations for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The NFIP is slated to be reauthorized by Congress in November (and would otherwise expire on December 8th). NFIP reauthorization was already slated to be one of three major legislative items of the current session of Congress before Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria made international news and threw the urgency of securing America’s floodplain into stark relief. Over half of all Americans live in a county adjacent to coastline, and climate scientists expect flooding issues to worsen worldwide over the next several decades, making legislative steps taken in the near future potentially decisive to the success or failure of securing the floodplain.

Sandy was one of the earliest contemporary “super-storms,” and New York City and State’s successes and failures during the recovery period have been used as case studies for how America must address the flooding crisis from here on out. Pheffer Amato and the working group, composed of stakeholders from impacted communities in South Queens as well as representatives of Congressman Gregory Meeks and Borough President Melinda Katz, note that their input is singularly valuable to the national debate, informed as it is by the successes and shortcomings of the existing NFIP applied to the United States’s largest city, plus five years of follow-up action to rebuild in the storm’s aftermath.

“Insurance shapes the whole landscape of resiliency and recovery,” said Pheffer Amato. “That’s why I convened this working group. Everyone on this team rolled up their sleeves from Day One in 2012. Now they have five years of experience under their belt – rendering aid, cleaning up, comforting their neighbors, rebuilding, lobbying for help, swapping best practices, wrestling with bureaucracy, fighting with insurance companies on behalf of their families and communities. Insurance impacts us long-term, steering where people live and can afford to continue to live; it touches on every aspect of recovery and rebuilding.

“The rest of the country is, unfortunately, about to experience some of the five-year horror show we went through – red tape, bureaucracy, and blatant exploitation,” Pheffer Amato continued. “But we did come out stronger, with a paramount desire to protect others from the worst and least-necessary shocks. There’s no one better than a Sandy survivor to bring a list of important ‘To Dos’ to a nation now grappling with these issues every year. And there’s no more impactful place to weigh in than on NFIP reauthorization. I want to thank this incredible team for their work to put our hard-won experience to paper, and I’m grateful to our representatives in DC for bringing us in to the national conversation.””The flood insurance system is far from perfect, and we need reforms that protect New York homeowners from outrageous premiums and storm victims from fraud abuse. This working group, convened by Assemblymember Pheffer Amato, will provide homeowners in South Queens the opportunity to voice their suggestions, concerns and complaints about the NFIP. As Senate Minority Leader, I will continue to fight to make much-needed fixes to the flood insurance program and push for a more permanent extension,” said U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer.

“As we consider flood insurance proposals on the national level, it is important that local leaders and elected officials discuss the unique challenges faced by New Yorkers, especially those in coastal communities like the ones I represent. Accessibility and affordability go hand in hand-- you can’t have one without the other,” said Gregory W. Meeks Representative. “My concern is that Republican Members of Congress and the Trump Administration think differently and would rather eliminate the government’s role in ensuring affordable access to flood insurance than reform the NFIP into a sustainable program. We have to strategize and advocate for an NFIP that works for New York, not one that simply works for private industry. This working group would go a long way towards achieving that goal.”

“This working group convened by Assemblymember Pheffer Amato has been a great success because it has connected government officials with Queens residents who are experiencing the negative effects of ever- increasing flood insurance rates,” said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. “Together we have come up with strong legislative recommendations for improving and strengthening the National Flood Insurance Program. Assemblymember Pheffer Amato and all those who have been a part of the working group deserve to be commended for developing common-sense proposals that would better protect Queens residents.”

“I want to thank Assemblywoman Pheffer Amato for convening a working group of knowledgeable individuals to seek credible suggestions and ideas for National Flood Insurance Program,” said State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. “The future flood maps and federal response to flood related emergencies will determine the livability conditions for the residents in our communities. Our constituents know too well of the minimal, erratic federal assistance after Sandy and have experienced the severe frustration of having to recover from its devastation. This first-hand knowledge will be helpful to our federal government and for future generations, when addressing the issues related to flood damage and insurance premiums.”

“Many of our homeowners were failed by the current National Flood Insurance Program,” said Denise Neibel, Assistant General Manager of the Breezy Point Cooperative. “Relief was slow, painfully bureaucratic and extremely inconsistent. Despite paying into a program which was meant to protect and assist citizens, the program became the disaster after the disaster. We hope that by working to reform the NFIP, future victims of natural disasters will not encounter these same problems. Giving participants the guidance, answers and assistance they deserve will better enable them to reconstruct their lives.”

“First, I want applaud Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato for taking the lead on the NFIP issue,” said Roger Gendron, President of the New Hamilton Beach Civic Association. “The recommendations by the study working group come from those who have the hands-on knowledge of what the program should offer to homeowners, as well as ideas to make it better. By bringing together representatives from the communities in her district that are most affected by NFIP’s re-authorization, as well as listening to our concerns, our Assemblywoman understands that many of these issues cannot be solved sitting in an office. A ‘boots-on-the- ground’ approach is needed; and who better than those who experienced firsthand the inadequacies of the flood insurance program to weigh in? For the past 5 years, our neighborhoods have continued to recover in spite of the NFIP program. Just imagine where we would be if the program had worked with us and not against us. Now is the time to ensure that any future flooding issues are handled fairly for those affected, and to ensure that resources are available to help mitigate future flood loss.”

“Maintaining affordable flood insurance for coastal communities is the single most-important issue for millions of residents who currently are mandated to maintain this coverage,” said Dan Mundy, Jr., President of the Broad Channel Civic Association. Broad Channel was among the hardest-hit areas during Superstorm Sandy. “As Congress is currently debating what the future of Flood Insurance will look like, it is very clear that some in Congress think that homeowners paying ten to twenty thousand dollars a year in premiums is a good idea.

“The loss of affordable flood insurance will destabilize coastal communities,” Mundy continued; “and for this reason, Assemblywoman Amato has formed the Flood Insurance Reform Advisory Group. I am proud to be part of this group, which has produced a working document which highlights the critical points that we need to see in the new reauthorization bill. Hopefully, we will see these commonsense concepts included and flood insurance will remain affordable for working families.”

“We urge all our congressman and Senators to support the SAFE Flood Insurance Bill,” said George Kasimos, a local Realtor / Broker. “It provides the most protection against the exorbitant rise in flood premiums, funding to correctly map flood zones across the country and provide mitigation funding to raise homes that are in harm’s way.”

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