Rep. Hart of Pa. Joins Critics of Flood Insurance Plan

March 1, 2005

A Pennsylvania congresswoman wants more oversight of the federal flood insurance program, saying local victims were shortchanged last year.

Rep. Melissa Hart, R-Pa., has joined representatives from Maryland, Virginia, Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina to criticize the National Flood Insurance program. She said she had received complaints from residents in Allegheny, Beaver and Lawrence counties who said they didn’t receive the money they were entitled to.

“We’re at the beginning stages of painting whether this is a widespread problem and also trying to determine if there’s anything in the law that needs to be changed,” Hart said in a Feb. 17 letter to U.S. Rep. Michael Oxley, R-Ohio, who chairs the House Financial Services Committee.

Beth Beam, of Ellwood City, said she was given nearly $90,000 less than she should have gotten from her insurance company because an agent working under the federal program said her home was outside the flood zone.

“There’s no accountability anywhere,” Beam told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “What’s the point of having these laws if there are no repercussions for not following them?”

In her letter, Hart said homeowners have had trouble getting their appeals heard.

“Such a steady flow of complaints suggests possible systemic problems with the administration of the (program), especially since the burden of holding the program accountable appears to be shouldered by private citizens,” Hart said in the letter.

Butch Kinerney, a spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said he had not received a copy of the letter and could not comment on it.

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