On September 12-13, 2017, FIRM Board member Lee Cummings and flood insurance advocates from across the United States attended a workshop in Washington DC hosted by the grassroots advocacy group StopFEMANow. StopFEMANow was formed in January 2013 by victims of Superstorm Sandy in response to drastic flood insurance premium hikes as a result of a confluence of the Biggert-Waters Act of 2012, inaccurate and incomplete FEMA flood maps, and questionable actuarial calculations.
Superstorm Sandy victims have a chilling message for survivors of Irma, Harvey, and now Maria: It’s about to get worse. “My suggestion to anybody that was flooded (or) will be flooded, put on your big girl pants because it’s going to be a long bumpy ride,” said Diane Mazzacca of Beach Haven West, N.J., who’s still waiting for full reimbursement for the damage to her 1,400-square-foot house nearly five years after Sandy. Read the full USA Today article here: usatoday.com-Superstorm Sandy victims warn Irma Harvey survivors its about to get worse (1)
Cumming’s report following his attendance at the conference was clear: With the deadline for further re-authorization of the National Flood Insurance Program being extended until December 8, the best option is to endorse the Sustainable, Affordable, Affordable, Fair and Efficient National Flood Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (SAFE NFIP) 2017 bill in the Senate, which FIRM has done since the legislation was introduced. This bill contains many useful reforms and has bi-partisan support. Both Senators Rubio and Nelson support the bill along with Representative Curbelo’s support of the House companion bill (H.R.3285). FIRM will be calling on all of our members to contact their Members of Congress, both in Florida and in other states, to support this legislation.
Also presenting at the conference in Washigton DC was Auggie Matteis of the law firm Weisbrod Matteis & Copley. His firm took the case of underpaid and unpaid Sandy victims all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and won. FEMA has now admitted that private insurers, claims adjusters, and engineers working on behalf of NFIP fraudulently underpaid tens of thousands of claims. FEMA has admitted underpayments of at least $275 million, although the true number could be higher. Click on this link to read a press release about the case.