Survivors of Hurricane Sandy in southern Queens and the Rockaways worried about increasing flood insurance rates will rally in Broad Channel Saturday, calling for Congress to postpone implementation of the 2012 Biggert-Waters Act that will cause flood insurance rates to go up for homes damaged in Hurricane Sandy. The rally will take place at noon Sept. 28 in front of the American Legion Hall at 209 Cross Bay Blvd.
The Biggert-Waters Act, passed as part of a larger appropriations bill just weeks before Sandy, removes some subsidies given to homeowners to make flood insurance more affordable. Proponents of the law say the subsidies are wasteful, premiums should be tied to market rates and that the subsidies made it more financially feasible to build more expensive structures in flood-prone areas.
But those who want to see the law reformed say it risks creating a situation where living in flood zones would become unaffordable.
They include residents of Howard Beach and the Rockaways, many of whom pay subsidized flood insurance rates and never utilized the program until Sandy.
“If parts of Obamacare can be delayed because they’re not ready, the president (and FEMA) can do the same with Biggert-Waters,” said Howard Beach resident Dorothy McCloskey in an email.
But FEMA Director Craig Fugate said a delay would take an act of Congress.
“I have not found a way to delay [the law’s implementation] without some additional legislative support,” he said in front of a U.S. Senate panel this week. “There is no provision for affordability in this law.”
This week, the City Council passed a resolution, sponsored by Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park), that calls on Congress to make changes to the Biggert-Waters Act including reducing the premimums imposed; allowing properties newly-mapped into flood zones to participate in a phase-in of rates; allowing for current homeowners receiving subsidized rates to continue getting them until they sell their homes and allowing higher deductibles and lower premiums for homeowners who take flood mitigation actions.