The Senate held a hearing on Hurricane Sandy rebuilding efforts. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan and Senator Chuck Schumer have both toured areas of New York hit hardest by the storm. Both were also at Wednesday's hearing. Our Washington, D.C. reporter Michael Scotto has the latest.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The head of FEMA got an earful when he appeared on Capitol Hill Wednesday.
"It must be delayed, fixed or modified," said Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu.
Lawmakers grilled Craig Fugate over the implementation of a new flood insurance program that phases out subsidies and introduces rates that coordinate with risk. As a result, homeowners living in flood zones will likely see their premiums increase on October 1st.
"They can't afford $9,000 and they're going to have to either leave their homes, and this is many people who were ravaged by Sandy, they're just beginning to rebuild their homes and then they got their flood insurance go way up and they don't have any money," said Senator Charles Schumer.
Making matters even worse is that new flood maps, which have yet to be finalized, could put thousands of additional homes in flood zones. FEMA is supposed to conduct a study looking at how to make the new rates affordable, but that won't be done for two years and Fugate says he has no power to delay the increases from taking effect before then.
"Without some additional legislative support, I'm getting bound and boxed into. I cannot address. There is no provision for affordability in this bill. It is delayed and phased in but there's no way to build affordability in," said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate.
The fight over flood insurance came just hours after the Obama Administration's point person on Hurricane Sandy came to Capitol Hill to give lawmakers an update on the rebuilding efforts, nearly a year after the storm struck the Northeast.
Among Senators, there was praise for the Administration's response, but also concern that things aren't moving fast enough.
Schumer said, "The most consistent question I get from my constituents is why they have not been able to receive either funding or reimbursement."
Senator Charles Schumer says he's pushing the federal government to fund projects that flood proof mass transit. Washington is expected to make a decision on that within the next few months.