The National Flood Insurance Program Thursday rejected requests from Sen. Charles Schumer and others to extend the deadline for homeowners to file lawsuits arguing for more money to cover damage from superstorm Sandy.
The government insurer, run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, issued a memo to private companies that administer flood policies, saying the 12-month statute of limitations is dictated by federal law and cannot be moved.
"FEMA lacks the authority to extend the time limit to file a lawsuit established by statute," wrote James Sadler, director of claims for the flood insurance program.
According to FEMA, homeowners must sue within one year of having any portion of their flood insurance claim denied in writing.
Schumer (D-N.Y.), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) and others have argued that the deadline doesn't give Sandy victims enough time. They asked for the 12-month statute-of-limitations clock to start ticking only when homeowners have exhausted their appeals and received a final settlement.
King said FEMA's refusal to budge "will deny due process to Sandy survivors who are still struggling to rebuild and continue to uncover losses to their properties."
Schumer urged the agency to reconsider.
"This," he said, "is bureaucracy at its worst."