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9th District Delegation Statement on “STOP FEMA NOW” Event Held in Berkeley

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Understanding that potential spikes in flood insurance premiums and substantial costs of rebuilding homes in the wake of Super Storm Sandy are among the most pressing concerns of their constituents, 9th District Legislative Representatives Assemblyman Brian E. Rumpf and Assemblywoman DiAnne C. Gove attended the “STOP FEMA NOW” event held on April 25 at the Berkeley Township Elementary School.

Over the past several months, the 9th District Delegation has actively participated in more than a dozen meetings regarding Super Storm Sandy. The meetings have been attended by representatives of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the New Jersey Office of Recovery and Rebuilding as well as mayors and local officials.

In representing the interests of their constituents during this extremely difficult time, the 9th District Delegation has forcefully conveyed that the exorbitant costs and extensive bureaucratic red tape created by the federal Biggert-Waters Insurance Reform Act of 2012 and FEMA’s map has, and will continue to have, a tremendously negative financial impact on affected homeowners and will only hamper New Jersey’s recovery effort moving forward.

The 9th District Delegation made the following remarks:

“With thousands of residents’ homes in our Legislative District having been damaged by Super Storm Sandy, we recognize how absolutely imperative it is that FEMA’s flood maps be modified in order to significantly minimize the financial hardships created for persons struggling to rebuild or remain in their homes.

“A critical point of focus for our Delegation has been to significantly scale back the number of properties that FEMA has placed in V Zones that, just from the insurance premium costs alone, hold the potential to price thousands of persons out of their homes. Appropriately, we have forcefully urged FEMA to reexamine data with regard to breaking wave heights and wave runup depths for the barrier islands and other areas negatively impacted by the new mapping.

“Too many inaccuracies continue to be found in FEMA’s maps by residents and local officials that appear to overestimate many properties’ risk to potential water damage. The tremendous costs that will rise from skyrocketing insurance premiums to the raising of homes are too severe to simply allow these maps to go unchallenged.

“It is extremely disconcerting to contemplate the broad, negative economic consequences that will result from large numbers of persons abandoning their homes as a direct result of financial and/or regulatory hardships imposed under FEMA’s maps and regulations. Waterfront properties constitute a significant overall percentage of the local tax base. Significant losses in ratables will have devastating and long lasting effects, especially in this depressed economy, on property taxes as well as services as municipalities will be left with no other choices than to make drastic financial decisions.

“Much of the financial hardships and overwhelming complications that residents are forced to face can be attributed to the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 enacted by Congress, which required FEMA to not only phase-out and eventually eliminate a variety of existing subsidies for flood insurance premiums but, also, to reevaluate the flood risk of certain flood zones.

“It is curious how the federal government suddenly saw the pressing need to eliminate subsidies for flood insurance premiums while, over the years, spending hundreds of billions of dollars to subsidize the auto industry, Wall Street, the banks, farmers, the oil industry and the tobacco industry. This has led to an overwhelming sense, felt by so many, that New Jersey has been treated disparately following the catastrophic devastation caused by Sandy when compared to the emergency response and aid given to such disasters as Katrina.

“Events such as that held by the “STOP FEMA NOW” organizers are essential to provide residents with a forum to voice their opposition and the ability to organize as a means of correcting the ill-conceived government policies that will have such a devastating impact on residents, their neighbors and communities.”

For review by their constituents, the 9th District Delegation has posted their “Opposing FEMA’s Flood Maps and Regulations” position statement on their legislative website at http://district9.senatenj.com/.

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The 9th District Team

Chris Connors

Senator - District 9

Brian Rumpf

Assemblyman - District 9

DiAnne Gove

Assemblywoman - District 9

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