Governor Chris Christie Challenges FEMA [VIDEO]
New Jersey's vocal governor publicly blasted the National Flood Insurance Program on Tuesday, calling it "a disgrace" and "unacceptable" in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. Thousands of homeowners continue to wait for payment from the federal program; Christie said 30 percent of New Jersey's Sandy-related flood claims have been closed.
Christie said he's been as patient with the program as he can be, but now it's time to "turn my special brand of love and affection" on the plan.
He called on New Jersey's congressional leaders to put additional pressure on the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which handles the program. Christie said homeowners need to know how much they are receiving so they can rebuild from the storm, and the state needs to know as well.
"New Jersey households timely paid their insurance premiums, so they deserve to have their claims timely paid now," said the Governor.
Christie praised local insurance companies for their work on other claims, including those related to homeowners, business interruption and other matters. According to the Christie Administration, 78 percent (333,962) of those claims have been closed or settled.
In response, FEMA said its top priority is getting resources to those in need as quickly as possible, while also meeting requirements under the law.
Considering all states affected by Sandy, FEMA stated:
"Of the more than 140,000 claims that have been filed, more than half have been closed and $3.7 billion has been paid out to survivors. We won't be satisfied until policyholders have received payments for all covered losses."
Also on Tuesday, the Governor announced that the Department of Banking and Insurance will issue an order requiring state regulated insurance companies to respond to the Department within five business days of a Sandy-related customer complaint. Insurance companies would normally have 15 days to respond.