Tags: sandy | hurricane | fema | homeowners | compensation

FEMA Official: We Let Hurricane Sandy Victims Down

By    |   Wednesday, 03 Jun 2015 11:10 AM

Almost three years after Hurricane Sandy, the deadly "superstorm" that devastated parts New York and New Jersey, affected homeowners still are battling the federal government over what they say are shoddy repairs by government-authorized contractors and a failure to provide adequate compensation.

In a House Financial Services hearing, Brad Kieserman, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) national flood insurance program, admitted that many hurricane victims "did not get what they were entitled to. The government let them down. The insurance companies let them down," NJ.com reports.

His admission comes as 2,200 homeowners have filed suit against FEMA and the agency has agreed to re-examine 141,800 claims from those who believe they were not properly compensated for damage to their homes, NJ.com reports.

CBS News examined 32 contractors approved by New Jersey's Rehabilitation, Reconstruction, Elevation and Mitigation Program (RREM) and found that half were from out of state, with the majority from Louisiana and Texas, while others are facing lawsuits, bankruptcy and consumer complaints of substandard repairs.

Residents complain of repaired homes that are leaking or sinking, and of still being afflicted with sagging ceilings, flooded basements and black mold creeping up walls.

In one case uncovered by CBS, a contractor left the RREM program but was still signing construction contracts months later.

Hurricane Sandy caused over $65 billion in damages and wrecked 650,000 homes when it came ashore in southern New Jersey, CBS reported.

Kieserman, who is leaving his post for a job with the American Red Cross, told the House committee, "We are settling claims. We are reviewing claims and we are going to reform this program," NJ.com reported.

Homeowners claim they have been cheated by insurance companies which altered engineering reports to lessen damage payouts.

Republican Rep. Scott Garrett of New Jersey told NJ.com, "After enduring the storm and the cleanup, the people of New Jersey had to face yet another challenge — doctored flood insurance claims that threatened their ability to rebuild. This is simply unacceptable.

"Frankly, it is maddening and I hope that we can all work together to ensure that victims are not cheated from what they are rightfully due," NJ.com reported.

The news website also said that 32 people have been charged with filing fraudulent claims for Hurricane Sandy relief, chiefly by claiming that their damaged summer vacation homes were their main residences.

Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said, "I expect FEMA to follow through with its commitment to ensure all Sandy victims get what they're entitled and to reform its broken National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to make it more responsive to the policyholder.

"I further expect that Mr. Kieserman's replacement will bring the same level of candor and willingness to fix the mess that has stunted the recovery for so many Sandy victims," the New Orleans Times-Picayune quoted Menendez as saying.

Sen. David Vitter, R-La., said, "FEMA needs to clean up its act after the widespread fraud that followed Hurricane Sandy. We had to deal with that following Katrina.

"It desperately needs real leadership and stability, especially as we get into hurricane season and people will need to rely on a stable National Flood Insurance Program," the Times-Picayune reported.

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Over two years after Hurricane Sandy, the "superstorm" that devastated parts of New York and New Jersey, affected homeowners still are battling the federal government over what they say are shoddy repairs by government-authorized contractors and a failure to provide adequate compensation.
sandy, hurricane, fema, homeowners, compensation
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2015-10-03
Wednesday, 03 Jun 2015 11:10 AM
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