Rallying against FEMA ‘loophole’

Sandy victims protest flood insurance exclusion


“You should have been in your house nine months ago,” County Legislator Dave Denenberg (D-Merrick) told the crowd. “… [T]here was no earth moving, that was floodwaters. This has to stop.”

More than 100 frustrated homeowners, many of whom are still displaced 10 months after Hurricane Sandy, rallied in front of the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building in Mineola on Aug. 29, and urged the Federal Emergency Management Agency to close a loophole that has raised the ire of thousands of residents of New York and New Jersey whose flood insurance claims have been denied. Many even called on President Obama to issue an executive order mandating that FEMA change the policy.

A provision of the National Flood Insurance Program, which is managed by FEMA, states that property loss caused by earth movement — even if it is the direct result of flooding — is not covered.

Denenberg, County Executive Ed Mangano, Legislator Denise Ford (R-Long Beach), Long Beach City Council members Fran Adelson and Eileen Goggin and others joined residents from across the South Shore to protest the policy, with many holding signs that read “Still Homeless.”

“… [T]o deny them relief because floodwaters caused their earth movement is ridiculous,” Mangano said. “Storm water was clearly the destructive force here. This exclusion is causing needless pain and suffering.”

Freeport resident Michele Mittleman, an attorney who created a Facebook page in July called Sandy Victims Fight FEMA, organized the rally.

FEMA maintains that more than 99.5 percent of the more than 143,000 Sandy-related flood insurance claims have been closed, and policyholders have been paid more than $7.8 billion. But Mittleman said she was denied full coverage for her home, which had to be demolished after it sustained extensive damage and was condemned. She and many others said they believe the earth-movement exclusion is being improperly used by FEMA so it can avoid paying homeowners’ claims.

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