Congress To Vote On Sandy Aid [LIVE VIDEO]
Debate has started on a $9.7 billion measure to pay flood insurance claims is set for a vote in Congress, boosting prospects for relief for the many home and business owners flooded out by Superstorm Sandy.
If the House, as expected, approves the flood insurance proposal today, the Senate plans to follow with a likely uncontested vote later in the day.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency warns that the National Flood Insurance Program will run out of money next week if Congress doesn't provide additional borrowing authority to pay out claims. Congress created the FEMA-run program in 1968 because few private insurers cover flood damage.
Northeast lawmakers say the money is urgently needed for storm victims awaiting claim checks from the late October storm.
Northeast lawmakers say the money is urgently needed for storm victims awaiting claim checks from the late October storm, which was one of the worst ever to strike the Northeast, ravaging the coast from North Carolina to Maine, with the most severe flooding occurring in Atlantic City, N.J., New York City and Long Island and along the Connecticut coastline.
"People are waiting to be paid," said Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J., whose district includes Atlantic City and many other coastal communities hard hit by the storm. "They're sleeping in rented rooms on cots somewhere, and they're not happy. They want to get their lives back on track, and it's cold outside. They see no prospect of relief."
About 140,000 Sandy-related flood insurance claims have been filed, FEMA officials said, and there are about 115,000 pending claims. Many flood victims have only received partial payments on their claims.
Philip Rock has received $8,000 in flood insurance payments so far but said he is awaiting a statement on the final amount, which he expects to be much more. A house he owns in Toms River had a $220,000 flood insurance policy. The house, which he rents out, was destroyed, and he needs to know the final payout before he can demolish it.
The house is a "total loss," Rock said. "We don't want to demolish the house and have them say, 'We have to go around and take more pictures.'"