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Friday, October 24, 2014
Outlanders balk on paying for Sandy rebuilding
Howard Schwach

There are many — including many federal lawmakers — who believe that those who lost their waterfront homes in Sandy are fat cats who only used their homes for vacations and get-aways and therefore deserve no federal subsidies to rebuild.

“By what measure of fairness should a citizen living in Iowa be forced to subsidize the weekend shorefront home of a wealth New Yorker? Or a resident of Flatbush underwrite the beachfront homes in Louisiana — or homes that are devastated year after year by the Mississippi River in flood season or by fire or mudslides in California,” asked on anonymous federal legislator.

The answer to that question could have a massive impact on the local area, from New Jersey to the tip of Montauk.

Congress is wrestling with that question as I write.

In 2012, after Hurricane Katrina left the National Flood Insurance Program as underwater as the Ninth Ward, congress passed and the president signed the Biggert-Waters act, proposed by congresswomen Judy Biggert and Maxine Waters.

The act gave the power to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other agencies, to make a number of changes to the way the NFIP is run. Some of these changes already have occurred, and others will be implemented in the coming months. Key provisions of the legislation will require the NFIP to raise rates to reflect true flood risk, make the program more financially stable, and change how Flood Insurance Rate Map updates impact policyholders. The changes will mean premium rate increases for some—but not all—policyholders over time. Some of those increases for homeowners on the flood plain who do not build higher and more resilient could be up to $30,000 a year, officials warn, an increased that would cause tens of thousands of people to lose their homes and destabilize entire waterfront communities.

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