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Stories From Main Street: Jersey Shore Residents Still Await Flood Insurance Checks

A home in Sea Bright, N.J. damaged by superstorm Sandy - Nov. 9, 2012 (credit: Tim Larsen / Governor's Office)

A home in Sea Bright, N.J. damaged by superstorm Sandy – Nov. 9, 2012 (credit: Tim Larsen / Governor’s Office)

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Superstorm Sandy

SEA BRIGHT, N.J. (CBSNewYork) - If you live on the Jersey Shore and still haven’t received a flood insurance check, you’re not alone.

Gov. Chris Christie didn’t mince words in early February.

“National flood insurance plan has stunk,” he said. “When you look at this flood insurance program, it’s done an awful job.”

A month later, the Federal Emergency Management Agency reports that more than 80 percent of flood claims have been settled.

But that’s news to Sea Bright Mayor Dina Long.

“Here we are, four months later, and really only about ten percent of the population actually have insurance checks in hand,” Long told WCBS 880 reporter Sean Adams. “I’m hearing a lot of nightmare stories from the residents of Sea Bright.”

She speaks from personal experience.

“Many people, myself included, haven’t even gotten that initial offer. So, I don’t know, at this point, how much my insurance company is going to give me for my flood losses and so it’s very difficult to make a decision [on] how to rebuild when you don’t know how much money you’re working with,” she said.

She’s still not back in her home, like thousands from her borough.

“It’s been very frustrating, and so I can really empathize with what the fellow residents of Sea Bright are going through,” she said.

The story is similar up and down the Jersey Shore.

“From their flood insurance, it seems to be a long drawn out process in order to get your money, in order to do the things you need to do,” said Seaside Heights Mayor Bill Akers.

Stories from Main Street - Photo: Evan Bindelglass / WCBS 880

Stories from Main Street – Photo: Evan Bindelglass / WCBS 880

RELATED: More Stories From Main Street

Sea Bright Councilman Read Murphy worked in insurance and he has a theory about the carriers handling federal money.

“This is my opinion. I think that they’re slow on paying their claims so they can accrue some money that,” he said. “Those accounts, if they invest them, which some of them do… will, in that period of time before they pay the claim out to you, will grow and on a tax-free basis.”

That’s a serious claim.

A government source told Adams that is unlikely and the program is closely audited. The source said the delays are likely the result of the lengthy and thorough application process.

After Gov. Christie’s scathing criticism, the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance contacted the National Flood Insurance Program.

“After that, the national flood insurance program began more closely with the department and agreed to set up and NFIP call center at 1-800-427-4661,” said department spokesperson Marshall McKnight.

FEMA, which runs the NFIP, did not respond to several requests for comment.

What has your experience been since Sandy? Share your story in the comments section below.