WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) sent a letter to Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator (FEMA), Craig Fugate calling on him to halt the planned closure of the Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) located in Leonardo and Union Beach, which are scheduled to close February 28th and March 5th, respectively. DRCs have offered a variety of services for victims of Superstorm Sandy including serving as direct points of contact for residents to speak with FEMA representatives to register with the agency and make claims with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
Pallone’s letter also called on FEMA to extend the deadline for New Jersey residents to register with FEMA, citing the extension already approved in New York.
“Too many in New Jersey are still suffering and need as much help from FEMA as they can get,” said Pallone. “The DRCs have served an important role in helping residents move forward with recovery and their closure is simply premature.”
Noting a previous letter sent to Administrator Fugate, Pallone also called on FEMA to address the slow and cumbersome process of advancing flood insurance claims. In his February 6, 2013 letter, Pallone told Administrator Fugate that, “It is simply unacceptable for residents of New Jersey, who have faithfully paid flood insurance premiums for years, to be left in the lurch when they need this assistance the most…I respectfully request that you take necessary steps within your power to cut the red tape and expedite the NFIP claims process so that New Jersey homeowners and businesses can begin the path to recovery.”
The following is the text of Pallone’s February 28, 2013 letter:
February 28, 2013
W. Craig Fugate
Federal Emergency Management Agency
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
500 C Street SW
Washington, DC 20472
Dear Administrator Fugate,
I write today regarding the planned closure of the two remaining Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) in Monmouth County, New Jersey. My office was notified today that the DRCs in Leonardo and Union Beach will be closing February 28th and March 5th, respectively. I respectfully request that you continue operation of a DRC in Monmouth County so that residents and businesses can continue to meet with FEMA staff as they move forward with the recovery process. I also request that the FEMA registration period for New Jersey be extended for one month, which has been done in New York.
Much work remains to be done to help homeowners and businesses recover from the historic damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. While I understand the registration deadline is approaching, many residents still have questions about their settlements and claims that require the assistance of FEMA representatives. These DRCs also serve as a local hub for all recovery activity in the area, with volunteer groups and local officials based nearby so residents can have their issues addressed all in one place.
Further, I am still seriously concerned about the slow pace at which National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) claims are being paid out in New Jersey. I have yet to receive a response to the letter I sent to you on February 6th outlining several problems my constituents are facing with delays in processing NFIP claims. As of last Friday, according to FEMA data, over 24,000 claims remain open in New Jersey.
Homeowners and business owners in New Jersey are still struggling as they work to rebuild after this devastating storm. I believe it is the responsibly of FEMA to be present in the community to help them as this process moves forward.
FRANK PALLONE, JR.
Member of Congress