MOONACHIE, NJ – U.S. Senator Robert Menendez today announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has agreed to extend the deadline for Sandy victims to have their claims reviewed until October 15. After evidence emerged of widespread lowballing and potential fraud, and at the urging of Sen. Menendez and the New Jersey Congressional delegation, FEMA agreed in March to reopen all 142,000 flood insurance claims filed by victims of Superstorm Sandy, not currently in litigation, including 70,000 in New Jersey.
“I have spent the past year and a half fighting to reform the NFIP’s broken claims process and give Sandy victims, who faithfully paid their insurance premiums, a second chance to finally get what they deserve,” said Sen. Menendez, speaking at Joseph Street Park in Moonachie, a community hit especially hard during the Superstorm. “I’m incredibly pleased to announce that FEMA has agreed to extend the deadline for Sandy victims to have their claims re-opened and reviewed.”
Sen. Menendez was joined by Tess Tomasi of the Volunteer Center of Bergen County, Sue Marticek of the Ocean County Long Term Recovery Group and Sonny Markoski of Long Beach Island, who, along with his wife Dawn, will be receiving $56,000 in additional money as a result of their claims review.
“I understand why many families have been skeptical about making the call,” Menendez added. “You’re tired and frustrated and reopening your claim may seem like reopening an old wound that still hasn’t healed. But Sonny and Dawn Markoski would not be getting an additional $56,000 – money they should have gotten the first time around – if they had not taken a second chance.”
In sharing his own story, Mr. Markoski said, “Senator Menendez, you never gave up on us. You were the first to really listen, and you’re still here three years later fighting for us, and fighting with us.”
“To other Sandy survivors, if you’re too tired to reopen the claim, I totally understand that,” Markoski added. “We’ve all been through a lot. But you know what, this is money you deserved, money you paid for in your insurance policy. You’ve got nothing to lose, and maybe a whole lot to gain. And it really was not that hard.”
“Families devastated by Hurricane Sandy in communities like Moonachie and Little Ferry deserve the time necessary to understand the complex NFIP application process and determine if it’s in their best interest to participate,” said Congressman Bill Pascrell (N.J.-09). “Just has I fought to ensure Moonachie has the federal resources to build a stronger and more resilient borough hall, I stand committed to helping homeowners impacted by Sandy get their lives back on track.”
“We know that we can’t make everyone whole again. But now we have a chance, a very rare chance, to get people a lot closer to being whole. So we’re encouraging residents to call the NFIP and have their claims re-examined,” said Tess Tomasi of the Volunteer Center of Bergen County. “Thank you Senator Menendez for pushing FEMA to make this opportunity available our homeowners, for getting the deadline extended to October 15, and thank you for being a true advocate who’s there until the end. Now, let’s get back to work.”
In August, Sen. Menendez led the delegation in a letter to FEMA Administrator Fugateurging an extension of the September 15 deadline.
According to the latest data released by FEMA on Sept. 16:
- 23,593 have contacted FEMA
- 14,201 are eligible and have entered the claims review process
- 825 have been recommended for additional payment