NJ homeowners say they have proof of FEMA ‘fraud’ on Sandy claims
Fed up with what they say is fraud, delays and denials with Sandy-related flood insurance claims, the group Stop FEMA Now on Thursday takes its fight to Washington, D.C., backed by more than 200 homeowners from New Jersey and New York.
A bus caravan was expected to depart from seven locations from Marlton to Staten Island, headed for a rally on Capitol Hill.
U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-N.J. 3rd District, is hosting a news conference at noon Thursday at the House Triangle where he'll be joined by homeowners who say they have been underpaid and defrauded by FEMA.
Stop FEMA Now founder George Kasimos, of Toms River, said he has proof, including photos, of what homeowners are now facing, despite the FEMA overhaul after allegations of engineering reports being altered.
"Now they're taking the old adjusters' reports and altering again without even coming out and looking at the homes, so this is a whole new set of fraud that's going on," Kasimos said.
Many of those who have received payouts also are being low-balled, according to Kasimos. He used foundation damage as an example of homes that were considered a total loss and marked for demolition by municipalities. In some cases, FEMA determined the structural damage was a pre-existing condition and paid out as little as $10,000 to $20,000 for a home with a $250,000 flood insurance policy, according to Kasimos.
Kasimos pointed out that over half of the 19,000 homeowners with reopened claims are still waiting.
"This was supposed to an expedited, transparent and fair process. Nothing is transparent and fair. If you have a disagreement with FEMA, they have a third-party mediator, but FEMA is not required to comply with that mediation," said Kasimos.
He also contended the agency is not providing homeowners with their initial claims file needed as evidence in lawsuits being pursued by Sandy victims.
Kasimos stressed the financial hardship Sandy victims continue to face while waiting for their flood insurance claims to be resolved.
"Imagine waiting four years for the money to rebuild your home. Imagine paying rent and mortgage for a home that you're not even living in," Kasimos said.