By Lauren Wanko
Six months after Superstorm Sandy hammered the Jersey Shore, destroying homes and business along the coast, residents face yet another challenge -- increasing flood insurance premiums. Congressman Frank LoBiondo says he wants to ease those burdens.
"This legislation which I've introduced essentially takes the federal flood insurance premium increases and extends it to eight years at 12.5 percent a year," LoBiondo said.
LoBiondo says his legislation will ease the immediate impact to shore residents. Under the 2012 Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform law, flood insurance premiums are set to rise by 25 percent each year for four years to reach actual cost of full-risk coverage. Congressman LoBiondo introduced legislation in Brigantine today that he says will lessen the impact of the rising flood insurance rates. LoBiondo's legislation would apply nationwide. Congressman Jon Runyan is co-sponsoring the bill.
"When you look at the industry here and at lot of it relates to tourism dollars, a $34 billion a year industry we have here in Jersey. It's going to take a hit this season and anything we can do to lessen the burden to our businesses and our homeowners here is gonna help us," Runyan said.
Flood Insurance costs aren't the only concern in shore communities like Brigantine. Mayor Phil Guenther says the city is working to make changes to the advisory base flood elevation maps.
"People are trying to rebuild after Sandy. Some homes need to be raised and the construction type will vary by the zone that the home is in, so the homes that have been placed in the V Zone would need to place their homes on pilings which is very expensive and logistically almost impossible with the lot sizes that we have in Brigantine," Guenther said.
Mayor Guenther says 25 percent of Brigantine's homes were placed in a V Zone, about 2,200 houses. It was one of the topics Congressman LoBiondo discussed with FEMA Administrator Fugate when they met three weeks ago.
"Mr. Fugate promised, guaranteed, assured me they would take Brigantine and any other municipality and work with them to get to a final map that is in agreement with both FEMA and more importantly the local elected officials and the residents who are gonna have to live with these new maps," LoBiondo said.
Congressman LoBiondo will travel to Washington, D.C. today. He'll meet with other lawmakers in an effort to gather bipartisanship support for the legislation.