Hurricane Sandy victims whose flood insurance claims were denied due to an “earth movement” provision may soon see financial relief — but many warn that the fight against the provision is far from over.
Last Saturday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the state, through its Housing Recovery Program, would fully compensate homeowners whose flood insurance claims for Sandy and Tropical Storms Irene and Lee were denied due to the National Flood Insurance Program’s earth-movement exclusion. The provision states that property loss caused by earth movement — even if it is a direct result of flooding — is not covered.
Many homeowners had their claims denied, and in August an angry group of more than 100 Long Islanders rallied against the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which administers NFIP, with the hope of getting the law changed. Freeport resident and attorney Michele Mittleman, who had created a Facebook page a month earlier called Sandy Victims Fight FEMA, organized the rally, at the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building in Mineola.
Elected officials, including County Executive Ed Mangano, County Legislators Dave Denenberg (D-Merrick) and Denise Ford (R-Long Beach) and Long Beach City Council members Fran Adelson and Eileen Goggin joined residents at the rally, denouncing the earth-movement provision and insisting that their constituents be reimbursed. U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand called on FEMA to do away with the provision, review any denials and pay the claims retroactively. Many even called on President Obama to issue an executive order mandating that FEMA change the policy.
Their complaints were heard in Albany, moving Cuomo to act.