Christie launches attack on feds' flood insurance program

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie during his 100th Town Hall meeting in Manahawkin, N.J. (MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer)

UNION BEACH - In his first Sandy-related salvo against the Obama administration, Gov. Christie slammed the National Flood Insurance Program today, saying that the pace of its payouts to victims of Sandy has "stunk."

During a news conference in this small community on the Raritan Bay that was ravaged by Sandy, Christie said that 30 percent of flood insurance claims, which are paid by the federal government, have been resolved, compared to 85 percent of homeowners' insurance claims, which are paid directly by insurance companies.

"I've been as patient as I'm going to be...and now I'm going to turn my special brand of love and affection on the National Flood Insurance plan," Christie said. Behind-the-scenes assurances from officials with the program, which is operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, "haven't been met." 

Specifically, Christie said more employees must begin working in New Jersey so property owners get the money they need to rebuild and so state government and nonprofit grant programs can begin issuing checks to close any shortfalls in the insurance payouts. He said excessive paperwork, inadequate staffing, audits and the threat of penalties to carriers and adjusters have complicated claims processes.

The state Department of Banking and Insurance is preparing an order demanding that insurance companies respond to its Sandy-related inquires within five days, according to Christie. He is also urging the state's congressional delegation to get "all over the backs" of the program.

The excuse that Christie said he received from federal officials is that "they're really busy." Christie called that "the same BS you hear from anyone who's not doing their job."

The Republican governor has had some luck turning his microphone on federal employees who delay funds. Last month, he publicly shamed Republican leaders of Congress to stop delaying approval of Sandy relief money. The payment was ultimately made. 

I'm waiting for a response from FEMA on the gov's comments.