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Sandy's legacy: inspiring strategy for future disasters.

APART FROM its impact on consumers and businesses, Superstorm Sandy set in motion a re-evaluation by state, federal and local officials of the potential effects of severe weather events.

Sandy's impact, centered on the densely populated coastal areas of New Jersey and the New York Metropolitan area, inspired the creation of a federal, state and local task force that in June released a 200-page report offering a comprehensive rebuilding strategy for affected areas.

The inch-thick report includes 69 recommendations, across several policy areas, designed to align funding with local rebuilding priorities; eliminate barriers to recovery while ensuring effectiveness and accountability; coordinate across levels of government; and facilitate a region-wide approach to rebuilding. It is also aimed at promoting what it terms "resilient rebuilding" so that the region will be better able to withstand the impact Of the next potentially devastating weather event.

One issue addressed of critical importance issue is the affordability of flood insurance. Three months before Superstorm Sandy struck, Congress passed legislation phasing in actuarial rates for those insured through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

A study chaired by the secretary of Housing and Urban Development reveals that the penetration of flood insurance in the 24 states affected by Sandy is extremely low. A February 2013 report on the NFIP estimated 15 to 25 percent of properties in Special Flood Hazard Areas in the Northeast were insured for flood losses.

For example, just before Sandy hit, the report notes, only 38,785 residential and business policies were insured in New York City out of the more than 300,000 housing units and 23,400 businesses inundated by the storm surge.

Additionally, the report cites a May 2013 New York Federal Reserve Bank survey of small businesses across New Jersey, New York and southern Connecticut that states only 8 percent of respondents whose firms suffered damage had flood cover.

The task force also exerts pressure on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to improve its efforts to educate citizens and businesses on better preparing for natural catastrophes. The first of these events was a major advertising campaign that got under way last month called "America's PrepareAthon!"

The report implies that government officials must do a better job of educating consumers about the value and availability of insurance products and risk-mitigation measures that will help them deal with the impact of future catastrophes.

The report says FEMA needs to get citizens to understand the hazards most likely to occur in their community; establish with them Corresponding protective actions, hazard-mitigation measures and community plans; and practice real-time drills to increase their preparedness.
Homeowner &                Claims (#)     Value ($)
Residential Property

New York                    501,447      $2.1 billion
New Jersey                  328,946     $1.56 billion

AUTO
New York                    109,833      $1.5 billion
New Jersey                   54,642      $530 million

RESIDENTIAL FLOOD (NFIP)
New York                     54,894      $3.2 billion
New Jersey                   70,787      $3.1 billion
Rest of the region           11,428      $270 million

COMMERCIAL FLOOD (NFIP)
New York                     1,933       $241 million
New Jersey                    3075       $315 million
Rest of the region            792        $43 million

COMMERCIAL PROPERTY
New York                     30,817     $1.33 billion
New Jersey                   39,870      $1.2 billion

Source: Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force
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Title Annotation:360[degrees] PERSPECTIVE: SANDY: ONE YEAR LATER
Author:Postal, Dave
Publication:Property Casualty 360-National Underwriter
Date:Oct 1, 2013
Words:533
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