TOMS RIVER -- Saying the Jersey Shore's recovery has been "cut off at the knees" because of lowball flood insurance payments, a Sandy advocate has repeated the call for an investigation of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Sue Marticek, executive director of the Ocean County Long-Term Recovery Group, said paltry flood insurance payments have made it extremely difficult for Sandy victims to rebuild and elevate their homes.
The state's largest Sandy recovery program, Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation, and Mitigation (RREM), was never intended to be the primary source of funds for rebuilding, she said. RREM offers grants of up to $150,000 for rebuilding and elevating primary residences.
"If FEMA and flood insurance would have paid those claims fairly, the RREM program would not have been the major part of people's budgets," Marticek said. "...We all really do need to be upset about what's happened and transpired here."
"You see, after paying premiums in good faith for years and in some cases decades, many up and down our coastline feel they have been shortchanged in their payouts which has created a nightmare for them to try to return home," she said.
Those decisions were made as part of FEMA's Hurricane Sandy Claims Review Process, which was put in place following allegations of fraud in the initial claims process.
Jeff Coolidge, a former manager for OST Inc., said at a news conference he was required to deny or underpay almost all of the roughly 1,000 Sandy claims he handled during the four months he worked as a flood manager supervising a team of case workers on the claims review task force.
“I left the Sandy review process because it is a sham,” he said. “I was literally losing sleep because I didn’t want to be a part of that fraud anymore.”
Those decisions were made as part of FEMA's Hurricane Sandy Claims Review Process, which was put in place following allegations of fraud in the initial claims process. But advocates like Marticek said the claims review process is still broken, and there is evidence of fraud.
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