Frustration continues to mount for many Superstorm Sandy victims still trying to recover from the wreckage the storm caused in 2012. U.S. New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez signed bi-partisan legislation today which proposes an extension of the National Flood Insurance Program for six-years.

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The Sustainable, Affordable, Fair, and Efficient (SAFE) NFIP Reauthorization Act of 2017 would include preventing FEMA from increasing premium rates above 10-percent per year on any policy holder for 6 years (it currently stands at 25-percent), it would also require FEMA to offer zero or low-interest loans to help homeowners pay for mitigation projects such as elevation or flood-proofing.

The Flood Insurance Reform Bill would also increase policy coverage to cover the fair market value of a home or building by placing the limit at $500,000.00 for residences and $1,500,000.00 for multi-family and business buildings.

FEMA would also have to process any policyholder's flood claims within 30-days of the filing date or provide a 15-day extension in the event of other circumstances coming up.

They would also need to follow up and answer claims appeals in a 90-day period.

“Americans deserve a National Flood Insurance Program that is sustainable for taxpayers, affordable for homeowners, and accountable to everyone,” said Menendez in a statement.  “This legislation puts the lessons we learned after Superstorm Sandy into action, levels the playing field for policyholders, and attacks the NFIP’s rampant waste and abuse to create real savings and greater investment in mitigation and resiliency efforts to make our residents and communities safer.”

Menendez joins fellow New Jersey Senator Cory Booker in co-sponsoring the bill as well as Senators John Kennedy (R-La.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.).

“Hurricane Sandy underscored how vital the National Flood Insurance Program is to helping people rebuild their lives,” said Booker in a statement.  “Unfortunately, this devastating storm also revealed the need to reform the NFIP and make sure FEMA better serves New Jerseyans by eliminating agency waste and mismanagement.  This legislation takes common sense steps toward making coverage more affordable, extending coverage to those who need it most, and investing in pre-disaster flood control and mitigation efforts that will help protect New Jersey families.”

The bill also seeks to help with prevention for future storms in addiction to repairing from a number of recent storms in addition to Sandy.

There is a catch, Congress in Washington must re-authorize NFIP overhauls by September 30 of this year or it will expire.

Local Ocean County organization leaders reacted in a sigh of relief today with wind of this bill being proposed.

“This is what bold legislation looks like. Senator Menendez never forgot the Sandy victims and those along the shore in need of relief," said Stop FEMA Now Founder and President George Kasimos in a statement. "It is the most policyholder-friendly bill being proposed yet it is fiscally responsible to the budget.”

“The pre-disaster aspects of this bill will go a long way to make our communities more resilient and save a tremendous amount of tax dollars in disaster recovery aid," said Ocean County Long Term Recovery Group Executive Director Sue Marticek. "We fully endorse this bill and need it now more than ever.”

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