What a shocker. And they say the FEMA issue isn’t a political one.
More details forthcoming.
The bill includes three points:
1 — If passed, it would place a moratorium on the implementation of the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) until “all affected communities are individually briefed,” allowing residents to investigate the FIRM process.
2 — Also, it would provide tax credits to affected residents for the first five years after a new flood zone is revised to include their house.
3 — Thirdly, it would create a new program through FEMA that would provide grants to local communities. The grants would allow a municipality to develop projects that could improve its rating through FEMA’s Community Rating System (CRS).
I will follow its progress as closely as possible, considering Washington, D.C., is not exactly an easy drive.
Look for more on the bill and municipality’s feedback in the upcoming issue of The Courier.
Unfortunately, Tim Varone and Frank Weber said they were asked to leave the open house by FEMA Regional Director Stephen Kempf, of Region II.
I interviewed Varone and asked him many questions regarding flood insurance. Because, if you will note, it seems FEMA is really good at pitching (er, mandating) flood insurance, yet the agency does not actually sell the product it so very adamantly insists the nation purchase.
Weber made an excellent point about flood insurance. He said, while FEMA may be the program, it does not know how to actually sell the program.
The first video of the two-part installment is Varone discussing the “grandfathering” of insurance rates. He says it behooves residents to take advantage of purchasing insurance now, before the zones actually change. When they do – and trust me, they will – the rates will increase, even the seemingly “low rates” offered now.
Varone also made it a point to distinguish certain flood hazard zone designations and what they mean to an insurance company. He said zones B, C and X are referred to as “preferred zones,” and could change to A zones on new Flood Insurance Rate Maps. The preferred zones typically mean a lower rate.
In the second video, Varone discusses why it is important to purchase flood insurance even if a resident owns his or her home. He says it will affect the resale value of a home when it comes time to sell.
Ultimately, and again, I visit this topic often – It comes down to money. Here’s FEMA, interrupting everyday life in the Bayshore with the crazy idea of mitigating risk. Here come the insurance agents: We all knew it wouldn’t be long before they trailed FEMA’s act.
Money money money. It’s just a fancy way of backing taxpayers – citizens who pay plenty of money into a government that never ceases to fail them, time and time again – of backing them working person into a corner.
Residents hear they need flood insurance if their property is located in a flood hazard zone, especially if they mortgage their homes. Ah, but, if you OWN your home, you’re not “mandated” to purchase flood insurance . . . HOWEVER, it is a good idea, considering policies are at their cheapest now.
Buy now, worry later
Isn’t that the economic theory society is trying to wean away from? Isn’t the United States in enough debt already?
Many people I have spoken to also make this point, a very valid one: Flood insurance does not help residents during an actual disaster. Perhaps U.S. Army Corps projects would? Who knows. They haven’t built any in a while, and I’m not sure the agency even knows what to do about the new “standards” FEMA has imposed.
“Grandfather” away, FEMA. Let’s hope there are residents left to tell this story to future generations. Maybe they’ll be sitting on the front porch having a drink, laughing about the “good ole’ days” when a silly federal agency almost drove them out of their homes.
Or maybe they’ll be like many Bayshore residents who lived for years in the very same towns they grew up in, but then had to leave because . . . Well, darn, because it just became too expensive to live.
During the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Open House today, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., addressed Stephen Kempf, FEMA Region II Director, as well as the entire Bayshore community.
The video below is the first in a series of six (6).
To view the rest of the series, click on the headline.
Part One (below) – “It comes down to individual homes” (Introduction)
Part Two – “Collective Questioning: ‘I’ve never had any flooding; what has changed?’ “
Part Three – “Is there something particular about the Bayshore?”
Part Four – “Shore protection: Would it make a difference?”
Part Five – “Katrina . . . “
Part Six – Pallone on his legislation: Moratorium, tax credits and grants
Update: All installments are uploaded. Thanks for your patience!
Throughout my FEMA research, I have found quite a few interesting things.
Recently, I came across a list of New Jersey communities on the FEMA Web site that were listed as participants in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
I found it strange that Keansburg was not listed.
After speaking to Mary Colvin, the branch chief of FEMA Region II Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment, she informed me that there was an actual 13-page document listing the 546 communities participating in the NFIP.
Keansburg was on that list.
Below is a spreadsheet of the communities in my coverage area, what year their flood hazard was identified, what year the FIRM was identified and adopted, as well as the date of the current effective map.
The Courier often receives Letters to the Editor. This one came in recently from a concerned Republican.
His concern is that our newspaper is being used as a platform for Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., and his “reactive,” not proactive, response to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) situation in the Bayshore. I applaud your concern! Not many people care enough about FEMA to write such a lengthy, intellectual letter about its coverage in the newspaper.
Robert E. McLeod makes it a point to ridicule The Courier’s “journalists,” stating at one point, “I know it is easier to simply regurgitate Pallone’s press releases, but journalism does have a higher duty.”
It’s ironic, because I actually did a lot of work with Congressman Pallone and have been on the phone with him and his office quite often. No statement from Pallone was ever e-mailed to me, nor did I “regurgitate” it from a press release. I have interviewed the congressman on several occasions.
Fact: Pallone is a Democrat. Wow, really? I had NO idea. Wake up, McLeod. The Bayshore revolves around a political circus. Thanks for pointing out the obvious.
If you’ve been keeping up with my series, and if you’re actually reading the articles other than trying to decipher the headlines, than you’ll see I noted which parties, groups or persons did not return my phone calls.
If you’ll also recall, at one point Assemblywoman Amy Handlin was the subject of a story involving the “Flood map fallout.”
Fact: Most Republicans don’t return my phone calls and pretend as if I don’t exist when they see me in public. I cannot change that fact; I can only continue my persistence in presenting both sides of the story.
As for being Pallone’s “mouthpiece,” all I have to say is that journalists are exactly that: We’re the voice, you’re the bigmouths. Congressman Pallone has been persistent in making his voice heard on the FEMA issue. Other politicians have not.
I will not be accused of being one-sided when the other side chooses not to respond.
Sorry, Mr. Republican. In my opinion, if you’re been following the series, you must be fuming at this point.
As for any “neophyte” such as yourself being able to do the type of research that I have conducted: Yea RIGHT. If you’re so diligent, try checking in with your party and see that the Republicans have done little to nothing on the FEMA issue in almost the entire Bayshore, give or take Union Beach.
FEMA has said outright that any petition really does nothing within the agency – especially halt the implementation of flood maps – other than show that someone went and rounded up a whole lot of signatures. Which, by the way, apparently Handlin has about 1,300 signatures at this point. That doesn’t even encompass half of the newly affected residents who will pay flood insurance, and it doesn’t even touch the actual number of residents in the Bayshore.
I don’t create the party lines. I’m “just” a reporter.
Here’s the letter in its entirety. Enjoy :)
To the Editor:
Your paper’s coverage of the FEMA flood map issue confirms its role as the official media outlet of Frank Pallone’s Ministry of Propaganda.
All one has to do is type “FEMA” and “flood plain maps” into the Internet search engine of choice and up pops volumes of articles from across the country addressing this controversy. Every salt water and fresh water coast or river bank has been under review by FEMA pursuant to Congressional mandate. The most recent flurry of activity appears to have begun in 2001/2002 but some of it appears to have started in the late 1990s.
When it reaches a Congressman’s district the voters start to complain about the impact of the new maps on their flood insurance and the value of their property. The Congressman scampers to propose some “remedial” or palliative legislation or regulatory moratorium such as Pallone has done. Such actions are always “reactive,” yet your paper presents Pallone’s as proactive. That is misleading.
Interagency conflicts between FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers – or any other set of overlapping agencies – are not new. Pallone is not directly at fault for the current “problem,” but it is a creation of Congress, a body of which he has been a member for 20 years. It should have been no surprise to someone in Washington who has had the vantage point to watch this controversy unfurl across the littoral and riparian regions of the country.
If a technical neophyte such as myself can discover all of this information during an hour or so on the Internet, one has to ask why your “journalists” could not have done the same. Subheading a full page article “Veteran congressman takes federal agency to task about new maps” depicts as decisive action what is simply an after-the-fact attempt to cover one’s political nether regions now exposed to a foreseeable controversy. It is a reaction to an event which should have been no surprise, if one were paying attention.
I know it is easier to simply regurgitate Pallone’s press releases but journalism does have a higher duty.
The issue posed by the new flood maps is not new; it has simply taken this long to hit the northern Monmouth Bayshore. Pallone’s actions at this point are simply another example of his penchant for grandstanding. The Courier is apparently ready to provide the podium and assist him in scripting his presentation.
Robert E. McLeod
Republican Candidate for 6th District
I was in Keyport on Monday during the “big storm,” in which I almost got blown away by the wind and was treated to a torrential downpour.
While I wasn’t surprised to see a little bit of flooding, I was curious as to its location: The waterfront.
I’ll chalk it up to common sense (low areas near bodies of water tend to flood, I get it) and the fact that much of the area in front of the new waterfront promenade is part of Phase 2 construction.
Let’s hope the new parking lot down there will level things out.