STANDING WITH LI HOMEOWNERS, SCHUMER REVEALS: LI’ERS FACED WITH POSSIBILITY THAT FLOOD INSURANCE PROGRAM—SO IMPORTANT TO THOUSANDS OF HOMES—COULD EXPIRE MID-SUMMER; SCHUMER ANNOUNCES MAJOR PUSH TO EXTEND NATIONAL FLOOD INSURANCE PROGRAM AS HURRICANE SEASON BREWS
Schumer Says He Is Gearing Up For Another Fight To Extend The National Flood Insurance Program LI Depends Upon And That His Push Will Demand Reforms That Better Protect Local Homeowners From Bad Actors Who Seek To Take Advantage Of Those Suffering After Storms
Risk Of Flood Insurance Program Lapsing Could Leave LI’ers Totally Vulnerable As Hurricane Season Begins In Just 2 Weeks; Early Forecasts Predict More Storms Than Average
Schumer: We Have To Win This Fight AND Improve The NFIP Because A Lapse Would Spell Doom for Countless LI Homes and Businesses
With hurricane season now days away, and in preparation for another fight against forces in Congress not opposed to letting the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), so important to thousands of homes and homeowners across Long Island, lapse, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer announced a major push and plan to keep the national flood insurance program in place for Long Island. As part of announcing his plan for a long-term extension of the program, Schumer also detailed reforms he will push to include. Many of those reforms stem from lessons learned in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. Schumer stood with local residents at the home of Rhonda & Remi Verriers.
“My message to Congress today is a simple one: it takes just one storm without proper insurance and protection to devastate a coastal community,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “It is frightening that -- just as hurricane season brews in the Atlantic -- a crosswind of partisan politics in Congress is putting Long Island and the nation at risk of potentially letting the National Flood Insurance Program expire. Flood insurance should not be political, but right now there are those who would have no issue with letting the NFIP lapse. We are here today to say this simply cannot happen. We cannot and must not allow the National Flood Insurance Program to expire.”
Schumer added, “While the NFIP is certainly in need of improvements — from protecting homeowners from outrageous premium increases and storm victims from fraud and abuse — the program cannot be allowed to lapse, because then tens-of-thousands of New Yorkers and millions of Americans would be in jeopardy. Long Island depends upon the NFIP; it’s critical that it’s up and running if, god forbid, another hurricane were to head for us. That is why I am announcing an all-out push to extend this program ahead of the July 31st deadline and will work across the aisle to get it done.”
Schumer explained the upcoming effort to extend the flood insurance program before it expires in July and said that the extension was being overseen by the Senate Banking Committee led by Republican Michael Crapo and Democrat Sherrod Brown. Schumer will play a role in these negotiations and has pledged an all-out effort to try and extend the program amidst what is expected to be an active 2018 hurricane season beginning on June 1st. According to media reports, initial forecasts project that the number of named storms will be above average, and those same forecasts indicate an above-average likelihood that a major hurricane will make landfall on the Gulf Coast or the East Coast
Last year’s Harvey was classified as a tropical storm when it dumped record rains on Texas and other regions of the Gulf Coast and caused billions of dollars in damage. Schumer today urged Congress to imagine the shape Texas would be in in the aftermath of last summer’s storm had the NFIP lapsed.
“Think for a moment the situation Texas homeowners would be in today if last year’s dreaded Harvey hit while the NFIP was expired,” said Schumer. “It would have made the multi-billion dollar catastrophe an even more tragic and horrifying situation for tens of thousands of people. We can’t risk that kind of situation on Long Island.”
Schumer warned what would happen if Congress fails to act. And further, Schumer detailed the reforms he is pushing to make as part of a long-term reauthorization, which include: an NFIP that provides homeowners with flood protection for a stable and fair cost, more accurate flood maps that utilize the best technology and sound data, stricter controls placed on lawyers who seek to defend insurance companies against homeowners, and better oversight of insurance companies participating in the NFIP. The NFIP covers approximately 5 million policyholders nationwide, including tens of thousands on Long Island and Schumer’s message today was simple: while the NFIP should be improved, it cannot be allowed to lapse this July.
FEMA provides homeowners with flood insurance through the NFIP, and according to FEMA: “The National Flood Insurance Program aims to reduce the impact of flooding on private and public structures. It does so by providing affordable insurance to property owners and by encouraging communities to adopt and enforce floodplain management regulations. These efforts help mitigate the effects of flooding on new and improved structures. Overall, the program reduces the socio-economic impact of disasters by promoting the purchase and retention of general risk insurance, but also of flood insurance, specifically.”
NFIP currently covers approximately 5 million policyholders nationwide. In December 2013, there were 91,558 NFIP policies in force on Long Island and following Superstorm Sandy, approximately 144,000 policyholders filed NFIP flood claims. According to a Pew analysis, there are approximately 435,000 NFIP policyholders in shoreline communities of Texas. Schumer said that many of these policyholders have filed flood claims related to Hurricane Harvey and the other hurricanes that struck last summer.
The last extension of the NFIP was agreed to in the recently-passed bipartisan spending bill. However, Republicans that have no issue with seeing the NFIP lapse demanded that the extension run out in the middle of hurricane season to use the threat of devastation to the most vulnerable communities as leverage to try to force ideological changes to the flood insurance system. With the NFIP’s expiration quickly approaching, Schumer said that Congress shouldn’t use the threat of an impending hurricane season as a political tool and must work to quickly pass a reauthorization before the program lapses this July. Schumer said that if Congress fails to act, a lapse in NFIP would mean uncertainty that ranges from individuals not being able to purchase a new home because that home requires flood protection to homeowners at risk of drastic flood damage not being able to renew their flood coverage, and many more questions as to how the program would function during the middle of hurricane season.
Schumer was joined by Suffolk County Legislator Kevin McCaffrey, Lindenhurst Deputy Mayor Maryanne Weckerle and Lindenhurst Trustee Joan Masterson.
“I am proud to stand with Senator Schumer and Lindenhurst residents to highlight the importance of renewing the National Flood Insurance Program," said Suffolk County Legislator Kevin McCaffrey. "So much more needs to be done to protect the wellbeing of these residents who live in these flood prone areas.”
“I want to thank Senator Schumer for returning once again to Lindenhurst to let these residents know they are not forgotten. Without the renewal of the NFIP, many residents simply cannot afford to live in our community,” said Lindenhurst Mayor Michael Lavorata.
Schumer has long fought to protect NFIP policyholders throughout New York. In 2015, Schumer urged FEMA to scrap the decades-old Write-Your-Own (WYO) insurance model from the NFIP and move forward to overhaul the process entirely so that flood insurance policyholders in New York and across the country are benefited in the future. The WYO model has been in place since 1983 and allows participating insurance companies to write and service policies in their own names. While the WYOs are subject to NFIP’s rules and regulations, Schumer explained that often times the companies are servicing flood insurance claims with the same profit-driven mentality as they would have for their other lines of business, and as a result unfairly reducing payments to homeowners.
Schumer, today, made clear that while the NFIP was not perfect and certainly in need of improvements, nevertheless it must be extended. Allowing the program to lapse amidst hurricane season would be irresponsible and could wind up costing Long Island homeowners and businesses dearly, he said.
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