Monday, April 28, 2008

Pallone addresses FEMA flood map controversy

Sixth District of New Jersey

CONTACT: Andrew Souvall

April 25, 2008
(202) 225-4671


Long Branch, NJ --- U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) today announced plans to introduce legislation as early as next week that would place a moratorium on the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) plans to expand flood zones. The New Jersey congressman is also calling on FEMA, as an agency, to implement the moratorium on its own for the Bayshore area.

Pallone voiced concern over a new Digital Flood Insurance Rate Map (DFIRM) that would expand the flood zone maps to more than 4,300 more homes in the Bayshore area of our district. The proposed plan has created a great deal of confusion in Hazlet, Keansburg, Middletown and Union Beach, and Pallone said, to date, FEMA has not been particularly helpful in addressing the residents' concerns.

Under Pallone's legislation, the national moratorium would remain in place until FEMA has developed an extensive public notification plan so that all affected communities are individually briefed and affected residents have the opportunity to investigate whether their homes were placed in the flood zones appropriately.

"FEMA's expanded flood maps are causing confusion and frustration in the Bayshore area of my district," Pallone said. "I would imagine that these new maps are causing similar feelings nationwide. At a time when families are struggling to make ends meet during a national recession, Congress must institute a moratorium on these expanded flood maps until FEMA has properly addressed serious questions that are rightfully being asked by affected homeowners."

The New Jersey congressman said a moratorium is needed in light of several questions that he has asked FEMA that have gone unanswered. In an April 9th letter to FEMA Regional II Director Steve Kempf, Pallone asked the following questions. What formulas were used to calculate the expanded flood zones? What has changed in terms of the topography of the area to create such a large increase of the flood zone? Would the requirements for the flood zones change if there were infrastructure upgrades to the area in question? And, are there any provisions in current law that help property owners pay for flood insurance?

"The proposed maps will negatively affect thousands of my constituents who have not been properly briefed on many of the issues that I raised in my letter earlier this month," Pallone continued. "FEMA needs to develop a better plan for reaching out to the public so that all affected residents have the opportunity to have their questions and concerns addressed."

Pallone also plans to bring together the United States Army Corps of Engineers, and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to discuss ways to remove the area in question from the new flood zone.


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