U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), who helped lead the New Jersey delegation in the fight for federal Sandy relief, issued the following statement in reaction to the release of the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Strategy by the specially-formed task force appointed by President Barack Obama.
"This important report lays out where we are in our Sandy recovery, and what lessons we can learn from our experiences thus far. While much has been accomplished, we know that much more work remains to be done. As this report indicates, the Administration recognizes the need to address the escalation of flood insurance costs," said Sen. Menendez. "While we work in Congress to develop a long term solution, the SHORE Act -- which I introduced in May, would help address this problem by slowing the increase in premiums paid for flood insurance. I look forward to continuing to work with Administration to comprehensively rebuild New Jersey better and stronger than ever before, and I call upon my colleagues in Congress to support maintaining the federal flood insurance subsidy, for now, to aid in our Sandy recovery."
A flood insurance bill passed last year before Superstorm Sandy struck has put into effect deep cuts in the national flood insurance subsidy, 25 percent a year over four years. Senator Menendez's Saving Homeowners from Onerous Rate Escalation (SHORE) Act, which he introduced in May, will dramatically slow down the cuts to the federal flood insurance subsidy over 10 years -- with only a 5 percent reduction for the first five years. Furthermore, it would apply to all properties, including secondary homes, in flood zones.
Since Superstorm Sandy struck, Senator Menendez has worked tirelessly on behalf of New Jerseyans affected by the storm. Sen. Menendez led the New Jersey delegation's efforts to pass the Superstorm Sandy Supplemental Appropriations bill, bringing the total Sandy aid enacted by Congress to $60.2 billion.
Throughout the long-term recovery process, Senator Menendez has repeatedly spoken on the Senate floor on this issue, convened hearings, and led a delegation of his U.S. Senate colleagues on a tour of storm-affected areas in New Jersey to focus on the importance of the Sandy Relief Package to help homeowners, businesses, and communities recover, and provide resources to rebuild coastal, transportation, and clean water infrastructure.
In late July, Sen. Menendez announced that U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) amended its rules pertaining to Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding to allow Sandy-affected New Jerseyans who have started rebuilding their homes to apply for CDBG funding. Previously, CDBG rules required homeowners to wait months for their application to get approved before they could even begin the process of rebuilding. This would have penalized homeowners who started the rebuilding process, and acted as a disincentive for the most expeditious Sandy recovery possible. This change in the rules -- made specifically for Sandy-affected homeowners -- followed Sen. Menendez's advocacy with U.S. HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan on the issue.