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NJ gov.: Fed flood insurance program 'has stunk'

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 5, 2013 at 5:11 pm •  Published: February 5, 2013
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"I'm not going to sit around and take it quietly any longer," he said. "We've gotten all kinds of assurances that haven't been met."

In comparison, the governor said 85 percent of homeowner claims had been settled, or closed, out of a total of more than 430,000 claims filed by homes and businesses.

He said "it is imperative that insurance claims be brought to final resolution so that residents can make critical decisions on if and how to rebuild."

While he was expressing frustration with the pace of claims settlements, Christie at the same time urged residents to stay patient.

"This is an unprecedented set of circumstances in the state of New Jersey, so we have to have patience with one another," he said. "I'd like to come here or to any of the other communities that have been affected and wave a magic wand, but I can't. It's going to take time, and it's going to take effort."

Christie administration officials set up a mobile office inside the local firehouse to assist residents who are having trouble getting answers from insurers or governments. There was no shortage of takers.

Eduardo Rocha, 42, who was walking with crutches as the result of injuries sustained in an auto accident, had come to ask FEMA how high he would have to raise his house — 2 feet — and to apply for a $30,000 grant to help defray the cost, which hadn't yet been estimated.

James Scott was clutching a handful of insurance settlement papers while standing in line on behalf of his 74-year-old mother, whose heavily flooded home had been taken down to its studs. Her flood insurance claim had been settled for $38,000 — $50,000 less than the estimated cost of rebuilding. The mother, Theresa Scott, was staying with another son in South Carolina until her own home could be repaired.

Christie also announced that the state Department of Banking and Insurance will start requiring private insurers to respond within five days to Sandy-related complaints filed with state. Insurance companies currently have 15 business days to respond to the department.

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Associated Press Writer Geoff Mulvihill in Trenton contributed to this report.