Albanese: Sandy Recovery Needs the Mayor

In an open letter to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Democratic mayoral candidate Sal Albanese, a former local City Council Member, called recovery still a "distant goal" 120 days after Hurricane Sandy.

As he travels around the city, Albanese said, he most often hears the call for clear answers:  when and how will rebuilding happen? Will beaches and roads be open by summer?  And what about flood insurance?

Many Sandy victims, Albanese said, have spent the past four months battling their insurance companies over coverage. Some young families, who relied on old flood maps, have no insurance. Those who rebuilt right away are learning now that their homes may not meet the new elevation standards. And FEMA's recent guidance on flood insurance is confusing.

To illustrate the confusion, Alabanese quoted a recent editorial from The Rockaway Wave:
"Figuring out if your house has to be raised at all (and to what height) is its own challenge. You have to figure out your BFE. You know, the Base Flood Elevation (defined as The base flood is the 1%-annual-chance flood, commonly called the “hundred year flood.” Base Flood Elevation is the water-surface elevation of the base flood. The depth of the base flood can be calculated by subtracting the ground elevation from the BFE. The probability is 1% that rising water will reach BFE height in any year; which compounds over a thirty-year period to 26% or more). Huh?"
And those who rebuilt too soon or too low now face the threat of skyrocketing flood insurance. Some homeowners estimate that new coverage could cost them 500% more than pre-storm rates.

To bring clarity to the process, Albanese called on Mayor Bloomberg to organize an inter-agency task force and assign a point person for each borough who would interface with borough residents to ensure that every family and small business recovers from the storm.

Albanese urged Bloomberg to visit communities still reeling from Sandy, talk to the people who live there, and lobby Washington for action on their behalf.

Now is the time, Albanese said, for Bloomberg to call on his unique ability to tackle hard issues and change stubborn minds to address the Sandy recovery -- before the next hurricane season.

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