When Hurricane Sandy hit in October 2012, it impacted 24 states, including the entire eastern seaboard from Florida to Maine and as far west as Michigan and Wisconsin. It damaged hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses, forced thousands of people into shelters, and wreaked havoc on vital infrastructure. Overall damage estimates in the U.S. are around $65 billion, making Sandy the second costliest hurricane in U.S. history after Katrina.
For thousands along the east coast, the slow recovery has been equally devastating.
Two years after Sandy, many victims are still frustrated by a lack of communication with state-run grant programs and the slow pace of recovery efforts. Hundreds of millions of dollars in federal aid for housing remain unspent, and even families who were able to move back into their homes are still struggling to pay for repairs.
In New Jersey, a recent Monmouth University Poll shows that only a third of storm survivors in that state are satisfied with the state’s recovery efforts. Sixty-six percent of residents are somewhat dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the recovery effort, and many simply feel forgotten.
Two recent changes hit flood victims with double punch.
Sandy brought major coastal flooding to the New York coastline and many businesses and homeowners who sustained flood damage didn’t have flood insurance. And two recent changes to the national flood insurance program are being implemented at the worst possible time for Sandy victims.
- The Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 eliminated the subsidies for some classes of structures, and phases out the grandfathering of certain structures when flood maps are updated.
- Then in June 2013, FEMA released their latest flood map of New York, nearly doubling the number of structures and residents in high risk areas.
In other words, as Sandy victims are still struggling to rebuild, more of them are now included in a flood zone and will be forced to purchase flood insurance – and they’ll be paying a lot more for it.
Fortunately, homeowners got a little relief in March 2014, when President Obama signed the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014. This law requires gradual rate increases for those who have been receiving subsidized rates. That’s a big relief for many who were looking at skyrocketing flood insurance premiums after the 2012 law passed.
There are signs of progress.
Despite the ongoing challenges of the Sandy recovery efforts, there is some positive news. According to Lisa Ryan, spokeswoman for the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, the state has disbursed more than $830 million of the nearly $1.83 billion New Jersey received in the initial round of federal aid. The state has set aside $1.1 billion for the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation, and Mitigation (RREM) program. The state also disbursed $19 million through the Fund for Restoration of Multi-Family Housing, and more than $30 million through a $100 million business grant program.
In New York, nearly $5.5 billion has been awarded for Public Assistance projects, nearly $84.7 million has gone to hazard mitigation projects, and nearly $1 billion has been provided for temporary housing, repair or replacement of eligible damaged property, and other disaster-related expenses.
How prepared are you for the next disaster?
No one can predict when disaster will strike or how it will impact you, but your business or your home could be wiped out in an instant. That’s why you need a solid plan and the right insurance coverage. The New York insurance experts at BNC Insurance and Risk Advisors can help you with both.
For the latest updates on Sandy recovery efforts, visit http://www.fema.gov/sandy-recovery-office. To stay up to date on flood maps and the flood insurance program, visit: http://www.fema.gov/flood-insurance-reform and http://www.fema.gov/information-homeowners.
Need a quote on New Jersey or New York homeowners insurance? Request one here.