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Storm Ravaged Union Beach Residents Frustrated with National Flood Insurance Program

By Lauren Wanko
NJ Today

Union Beach residents frustrated with the National Flood Insurance Program are looking for answers. More than 100 days since Hurricane Sandy, many are wondering why their insurance claims haven’t been processed.

“We have nothing. We’re just trying to rebuild, but I have not received any money from insurance company yet. Apparently a check was cut a month ago. I haven’t seen it,” said Union Beach resident Kathleen McCormeck.

Congressman Frank Pallone this morning met with homeowners in the storm-ravaged community like Scott MacQuarie. He told the congressman he understands he needs to elevate his home but what he doesn’t understand is the amount of money he expects to get from his insurance company.

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“It doesn’t even approach 50 percent of what my house is worth to get me back into my house. I have a $250,000 policy, the maximum. They want to give me $76,000,” MacQuarie said.

“This is a huge problem. I really think it’s the biggest problem we face right now is that so many homeowners who’ve been paying the federal flood insurance for years now are finding that they’re getting paid less, their claims haven’t been processed. The problem with the basic flood insurance program is severe,” Pallone said.

“I would like to know are we gonna get some help? We need help because the insurance company’s only giving us half or not even half, not enough to rebuild on that land that we have to pay on and we can’t go anywhere else. We have to be in this town and this is where I want to be,” said Union Beach resident Denise Drovon.

During the height of the storm, 90 percent of this town was completely under water. Officials say of the 2,500 homes in Union Beach, 2,000 were damaged by the storm and 175 homes were completely washed away. Gov. Chris Christie was just in Union Beach last week. He didn’t hold back on his feelings on the National Flood Insurance Program.

“Our local insurance companies have been doing a great job of settling and moving these claims very quickly. The national flood insurance plan has stunk,” Christie said.

Others wonder after they rebuild how they will afford higher flood insurance rates.

“We cannot spend $5,000 a year for flood insurance when we are living on Social Security you know, it’s very difficult for us to manage to live in the house so we need a place to live. Where are my husband and I gonna go at our age now?” asked Union Beach resident Mieminie Shapiro.

Congressman Pallone sent a letter to FEMA’s administrator in the hopes that added pressure will move the process along faster. Meantime Union Beach residents say they’re determined to fight to rebuild their homes and their lives.