Shore congressman introduces bill to protect disaster survivors from government ‘clawbacks’

A lone home stood near the Mantoloking Bridge in Mantoloking after Superstorm Sandy's storm surge inundated the area in late October 2012. (Associated Press photo)

A lone home stood near the Mantoloking Bridge in Mantoloking after Superstorm Sandy's storm surge inundated the area in late October 2012. (Associated Press photo)

A Shore congressman has introduced legislation that would prevent the federal government from recouping allocated federal disaster funds awarded to citizens.

Rep. Jeff Van Drew, whose district covers portions of southern Ocean County through Cape May County, says the Nation Owes Community Lifelines After Weathering Sandy (NO CLAWS) bill is a “common sense” measure to protect victims of natural disasters.

“The devastation of Superstorm Sandy was widespread in South Jersey. Some members of our community have still not fully recovered. On top of the devastating damage and the effects that this storm had on our community, many New Jersey homeowners became victims of these unexpected government clawbacks,” he said in a prepared statement.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency attempted to recoup more than $6.5 million from nearly 1,000 New Jersey homeowners claiming that they were mistakenly overpaid, Van Drew said.

But the mistakes were the fault of FEMA, and not the homeowners.

“The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, which set a three-year statute of limitation for this practice, did not completely address this issue so now we must. In the private sector, insurance companies cannot demand money back unless they have proven fraud. The government should not be the exception,” he said.

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