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FEMA reopens Hurricane Sandy insurance claims

Bowing to mounting pressure from U.S. lawmakers to compensate all Hurricane Sandy victims who might have been cheated out of flood insurance payments, the federal government will reopen as many as 144,000 flood insurance claims to review.

At the same time, a top agency official has resigned after allegations that widespread fraud cost homeowners crucial payouts in the wake of the 2012 storm.

Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Craig Fugate agreed to reassess every single Sandy flood claim during a meeting Wednesday with the four U.S. senators from New York and New Jersey, according to the International Business Times.

Fugate also has accepted the resignation of David Miller, associate administrator for the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration, which oversees the flood insurance program, an agency spokesman confirmed.

In addition to Miller’s departure, the agency confirmed that Edward Connor, a former deputy associate administrator for federal insurance who headed the flood insurance program, has retired.

The review process will expand the reach of additional payouts beyond the 2,200 Sandy victims who filed lawsuits on their claims, and who have generated massive attention over the way their claims were handled by private insurers working for FEMA.

“This is a significant turnaround for the thousands of Sandy survivors who have been victimized not only by the storm, but by FEMA, insurance companies and their subcontractors who systemically lowballed claims,” Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said in an emailed statement to the International Business Times.