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Bill to Delay Flood Insurance Rate Hikes Passes U.S. Senate

Delay would only cover primary homeowners, however

A car stuck in a home in the Normandy Beach section of Brick Township, N.J. after Superstorm Sandy. (Photo: Daniel Nee)
A car stuck in a home in the Normandy Beach section of Brick Township, N.J. after Superstorm Sandy. (Photo: Daniel Nee)
A bill that would delay rate hikes in the National Flood Insurance Program for four years overwhelmingly passed muster with the U.S. Senate on Thursday.

The 67-32 vote on the bill authored by U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) would provide relief from potentially massive flood insurance rate increases for Jersey Shore residents. The relief would only be provided to primary residences, however, and must still pass the House of Representatives and be signed into law by President Barack Obama.

"This is a triumphant victory for the thousands of New Jersey homeowners who need our help and stood up, spoke out and stuck with me until we took this flood insurance relief bill over the finish line," said Menendez, in a statement.

The delay would allow FEMA to complete an affordability study, provide solutions to mitigate the affect of rate hikes and scientifically certify the accuracy of its maps.

A wave of insurance claims after Hurricane Katrina put the National Flood Insurance Program on the verge of bankruptcy. In 2012, Congress passed a law, known as Biggert-Waters, to restore its solvency. But drastic rate increases mandated by Biggert-Waters are placing a tremendous burden on recovering flood victims, and many Jersey Shore residents have been fearful of losing their homes, since flood insurance is mandated by mortgage companies for homes located in flood zones.

U.S. Rep. Jon Runyan (R-NJ), after the Senate vote, called on his party's leaders in the House to post the bill for a vote in that chamber.

Runyan represents most of Ocean County, N.J., one of the nation's hardest-hit areas during Superstorm Sandy, where entire neighborhoods are still largely uninhabitable.

"We are more than a year removed from Superstorm Sandy, but I know for a fact that people are still struggling to rebuild their homes, their businesses, and their lives," Runyan said in a statement. "I urge Speaker Boehner and House leadership to bring this bill to the floor of the House of Representatives so that families in South Jersey are not hit with yet another increase that they cannot afford."
ray January 31, 2014 at 05:49 AM
Wonderful. Now the rest of us get to help pay for these homes by the water. So, not only do we have to pay for our own homes, but the special people get part of my income. Thanks a lot, Menendez. "This is a triumphant victory for the thousands of New Jersey homeowners..." and a financial burden for the rest o fus.
suz January 31, 2014 at 07:49 AM
Leave it to the democrats to hand out $$ once again.
HV January 31, 2014 at 08:01 AM
2nd homeowners once again screwed. What good does this new bill do for the 1000s of owners who make up a majority of the shore? Can NJ ever do something fair and correct? Cause this surely discriminates. I wish no ill on primary owners (i was one for 20 years) but this bill sucks.
Squandered Youth January 31, 2014 at 09:44 AM
HV, the article is wrong. S. 1926 delays increases due to loss of GRANDFATHERING for all properties, INCLUDING second homes (and businesses), although it only preserves SUBSIDIES for primary homes. It was the loss of grandfathering (and inclusion of a surcharge for paying off the NFIP debt) that was driving ALL of the increases for the 80% of owners who don't have subsidies and most of the increases even for those who do. Assume a subsidized second home had a pre-B-W premium of $600 that would be $1000 without a subsidy, and its elevation will change two feet on the new maps. B-W loss of the subsidy would have increased the premium from $600 to $1000, and rolling in paying off Katrina debt might add another $400 and take the premium to $1400. The loss of grandfathering and basing BFE on the new maps, however, would have raised the premium from $1400 to $6000. The bill passed by the Senate would keep a primary owner's premium at around $600. It would not affect the increase for a secondary owner from $600 to $1400- but it should stop - for four years - the increase from $1400 to $6000. This is for comparison purposes only and your premiums may vary, but that's the idea.
Phyllis Perthold January 31, 2014 at 10:20 AM
Once again second home residents get screwed again. I'm 100% behind the primary home residents but surely have some compassion for us. We pay the same insurance rates and taxes.
rwhandjh January 31, 2014 at 10:20 AM
ray...Think about this for a moment. Massive flood insurance increases wouldn't just hurt people who live on or near the water, but it would hurt people who live inland as well. If many people have to walk away from their homes into foreclosure, who do you think is going to have to pay for the lost taxes being paid to Brick? The "special people" you refer to are mostly just average people who live in modest houses like myself who currently pay higher property taxes than most others.
HV January 31, 2014 at 10:22 AM
And we wonder why Seaside and Ortley still look like war zones in many areas. Owners cant afford to rebuild let alone pay flood on homes that are destroyed. Flood insurance is really a joke. They deny most claims anyway or make stuff up to suit not paying like "you are underinsured." Oh really? Then why did you write the policy in the first place?
bayshore bill January 31, 2014 at 11:07 AM
this is good for people a lot of areas did not flood and are getting sucked into crazy flood ins rates that are not affordable hope it passes
Mark January 31, 2014 at 11:36 AM
Some of my friends are second home owners not because they are wealthy but because parents or relatives died and they were part of the estate. So they may appear well off on paper but in reality its two houses to maintain, which adds up in expenses. And for these people / homeowners they have been ignored.
Chuck Cumella January 31, 2014 at 12:40 PM
STOP FEMA NOW! go to www.stopfemanow.com or on FB STOP FEMA NOW. This isn't just a NJ issue; it's national.
Chuck Cumella January 31, 2014 at 12:40 PM
And ray; you don't know what the hell your talking about. This WILL AFFECT EVERYONE!!!!
Sue January 31, 2014 at 01:07 PM
All 50 states have flood zones, and FEMA is expanding them to get more customers for its bail-out on the homeowners' backs. Non-flood-area homeowners will have higher property taxes because exorbitant premiums and extra-high elevation mandates are killing property values. We can't afford to keep our homes, and we can't afford to raise them... There will be mass abandonments and foreclosures... Leading to lower tax receipts to towns, schools and counties... Leading to higher taxes for everyone. StopFEMAnow.com and Facebook.com/StopFemaNow have more facts. Get involved!
Jeff Smead February 02, 2014 at 07:04 AM
If you are concerned about the huge flood insurance premium increases, Join us online at Stopfemanow.com. We are a very active national group of homeowners fighting for affordable flood insurance, to repeal and delay Biggert Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012. We have chapters in every state but need you to help us. Get facts, not rumors, come join Stopfemanow.com
Floodgate February 02, 2014 at 08:49 AM
Unfortunately Ray and Suz are an example of the disconnection that people are facing with this epidemic problem . I mean it is highly unlikely that our government used money misappropriation with the flood premiums collected all these years, right? Pay attention if you want to comment . Most just make comments from reading headlines and not researching why this is happening ..But if it makes them feel good ....
suz February 02, 2014 at 09:04 AM
Floodgate...misappropriated funds happens all the time. I just don't think that Christie is behind it in this case. Oh, I do read and watch other sources because the Patch reporters are just liberal sheep following the herd. Are you?
Floodgate February 02, 2014 at 02:03 PM
Nope ,but I am one of the millions about to have the financial burden of misused funds placed on my back . The question wasn't reading other sources but in fact understanding fully what is really happening instead of believing what the government wants everyone to believe .in this case it's to turn us against each other and not toward them .thats what sheep believe. Thanks for lookin.
anonymous February 03, 2014 at 03:03 AM
S.1926 is a band aid. They need to repeal Biggert-waters and find another solution that will Never hurt the people it is supposed to protect.

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