By Christie Duffy
Gov. Chris Christie’s request to push back the deadline comes on the heels of his harsh criticism of the federally run insurance program.
“The entire flood insurance business in this country has been taken over by the federal government. It’s called the National Flood Insurance Plan, which you all painfully now know. NFIP. I said that there should be a new F word in there. FEMA is the new F word,” Christie said.
“We can’t just sit here, 18 months later saying, it’s the federal government. Then do something,” said Stop FEMA Now founder George Kasimos.
Some homeowners say they need the insurance extension.
“I work two jobs. My husband passed away about 10 years ago. So it’s just me doing this. And the paperwork has been overwhelming,” said Sandy victim Kim Ely.
On what would this six-month extension mean to her, “A little breathing room,” she said.
Ely has two homes in Brick Township. She says she has received just a fraction of what her insurance policies are worth, forcing her to take out money she saved for retirement. She’s still wrangling with grants and the insurance companies.
“I mean, everybody is stressed from the paperwork. I just talked to a friend and he’s not done yet either. So if we could get this six-month extension, it would really be helpful,” Ely said.
“I think a lot of folks have what we call meeting fatigue, going to all these different meetings and talking with their adjustors, and everything else. So we definitely need more time to file our proof of loss claim with our insurance companies, because the flood insurance companies are not giving us anything close to fair compensation for our damages,” Kasimos said.
Residents we talked to say they don’t just want more time to file paperwork, they also want more help. They say right now they’re spending a lot of money on attorney’s fees, counter-intuitively, to get their insurance money.
“What he should do is he should get the Rutgers law school and our state universities’ law schools to help us file our claims, instead of us paying 30 percent of our claims to these attorneys. In New York, Touro Law School is doing that for New York residents. We should be doing the same thing here in New Jersey,” said Kasimos.
Kasimos wants property owners to get what they deserve from the National Federal Insurance Program, and not have to fight tooth and nail to get it.
“I mean there are stories of homes that got pushed into the bay, and they’re getting a $50,000 claim,” said Kasimos.
FEMA would only say that they’ve received the request, and that they’re considering it.