Despite Cuomo's help, a law still needs to be changed

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The Biggert-Waters act must be either repealed or changed to reflect the reality of what happened when Hurricane Sandy steamrolled across the tri-state area, its powerful floodwaters moving the earth beneath house foundations from New Jersey to Connecticut.

In fact, Rep. Maxine Waters, one of the two members of the House of Representatives who wrote the act, has requested that it be put on hold until it can be changed. Waters, a California Democrat whose co-author was former Rep. Judy Biggert, an Illinois Republican, has bemoaned the “unintended consequences” of the law, including huge increases in flood insurance premiums and the high percentage of homeowners who have been denied assistance by FEMA under its provisions. Waters has said she is committed to passing legislation to delay most of the law for three years.

Late last month, Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Democrat from Louisiana, introduced a bill in the Senate that would reform Biggert-Waters by making flood insurance more affordable and repealing the earth-movement clause.

We applaud the move at the highest levels to rework Biggert-Waters. All of the local elected officials who voted for its passage, including Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Gregory Meeks, have repudiated their votes, arguing that the law looked reasonable at the time, when it was necessary to rework the flood insurance program.

Now, with the knowledge and experience gained from Sandy, it is time to change the law to ensure that next time a storm hits, there will be no such horrible surprise for homeowners looking to their government for assistance.

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