FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 15, 2012
SCHUMER, GILLIBRAND, MCCARTHY CALL ON FEMA TO EXTEND LOW-COST PREFERRED RISK POLICY FOR NASSAU COUNTY HOMEOWNERS UNTIL NEW JAMACIA BAY FLOOD MAPS ARE FINALIZED
Thousands of Residents’ Flood Insurance Rates Set to Skyrocket, From Approximately $400 to as much as $2,000 Per Year, If Preferred Risk Policy Is Not Extended, Despite the Fact That Previous Nassau County Flood Maps Based on Storm Surge Studies of Suffolk County
Schumer, Gillibrand, McCarthy Call on FEMA to Extend Preferred Risk Policy Until Jamaica Bay Study is Completed and New Flood Maps are Finalized that Truly Reflects Best Available Science and Local Data
Schumer, Gillibrand, McCarthy: Quadrupling Flood Insurance Rates for Nassau Homeowners Based on Outdated Suffolk County Flood Maps Flies in the Face of Reason
U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten E. Gillibrand and Congressman McCarthy today called on FEMA to extend the preferred risk policy for Nassau County property owners until the new Jamaica Bay flood maps are finalized. Under the existing flood insurance program, homeowners who live in an area designated as a flood zone are required to purchase flood insurance. These policies can cost up to $2,000 per year on Long Island.
However, certain residents in Nassau County, who only recently were determined to live in flood hazard areas, are allowed to purchase Preferred Risk Policies (PRP) – a low-cost alternative – that costs residents only $200 to $400 per year. But those subsidized policies are set to expire on December 31, 2012 unless FEMA extends their availability.
Schumer, Gillibrand and McCarthy noted that, until FEMA finalizes a new Jamaica Bay study and updates the Nassau County flood maps to reflect the appropriate base flood elevations, communities impacted by recently adopted flood maps that were based on Suffolk County data should continue to be offered the PRP. Today they urged FEMA to extend the PRP for these homeowners until the Jamaica Bay flood maps are finalized.
“Nassau homeowners are already stretched to the limit – the last thing they need is to pay for exorbitant flood insurance based on data that was used to map someplace else,” said Schumer. “Instead of quadrupling flood insurance rates for homeowners, FEMA needs to extend the Preferred Risk Policies to keep flood insurance affordable until the Jamaica Bay study is completed and more accurate flood maps are finalized.”
“Nassau families should not have to shoulder the financial burden of exorbitant flood insurance costs for homeowners,” said Senator Gillibrand. “It is critical that FEMA extends the subsidized policies for Nassau homeowners until a decision on the Jamaica Bay flood maps is reached.”
“This is about basic fairness and relief while residents await more local and accurate data from the Jamaica Bay study. Extending these reduced rates for property owners in the flood zone isn’t just helpful in a tough economy – it’s simply the right thing to do,” said Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy.
“Homeowners in certain areas of Valley Stream are suffering unfairly under the 2009 flood mapping that FEMA conducted, using faulty data. Home values are at risk and insurance premiums are on the verge of near-catastrophic levels,” Valley Stream Mayor Edwin Fare stated. “It is imperative that FEMA extend the PRP indefinitely, while it conducts an accurate reassessment of the area flood plains, based upon the Jamaica Bay mapping and using the best scientific data available. It is our strong assertion that Valley Stream should be removed from the flood zone entirely, and reinstated to its original designation at the lower elevations. Anything less, in our view, would be inadequate for Valley Stream residents.”
In September 2009, FEMA implemented new flood maps throughout Nassau County that forced thousands of residents to purchase flood insurance plans, costing up to $2,000 per year. In communities like Valley Stream, Massapequa Park, and throughout the Town of Hempstead – areas which have little to no recorded history of significant flooding to the new base elevation levels – residents are being forced to purchase insurance at the same levels as coastal communities. Nassau residents and officials argue that the maps are faulty because they are based on Suffolk County data, and therefore does not utilize the best available science or the appropriate base flood elevation data.
Nassau Country residents who wish to buy insurance or are required to by their lender are currently allowed to purchase PRPs that cost only $200 to $400 instead of up to $2,000. However, the PRP is set to expire on December 31, 2012.
Schumer, Gillibrand and McCarthy today, in a letter to FEMA Administrator Fugate, urged FEMA to extend the PRP until the new Jamaica Bay flood maps are finalized. Schumer, Gillibrand and McCarthy argued that with the high cost of living on Long Island, homeowners are already stretched to the limit and forcing them to pay premiums that are many times what they are paying now is simply unfair under the circumstances, with flood maps that are in need of revision. In addition, homeowners will have difficulty selling their homes because of the higher premiums.
A copy of their letter to Administrator Fugate.
Dear Administrator Fugate,
We write today to urge the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to extend the preferred risk policy for property owners until the new Jamaica Bay flood maps are finalized. Currently, the preferred risk policy is set to expire on December 31, 2012, but it is still a necessity for our constituents who reside in Queens and Long Island.
As you know, thousands of residents living in Queens and Long Island have been impacted by FEMA’s 2009 flood mapping and thousands more will be affected by the Jamaica Bay flood study currently underway. The preferred risk policy allows affected property owners to pay a reduced flood insurance rate of approximately $200 to $400 per year on average. Once this policy expires, residents’ flood insurance rates will sky rocket to approximately $2,000 per year on average. With the high cost of living on Long Island, these flood insurance rates are exorbitant and homeowners will have difficulty selling their homes because of the premium.
In addition, FEMA used Suffolk County data to plot out Nassau County’s flood maps. Until FEMA finalizes a new Jamaica Bay flood map that truly reflects the best available science and utilizes an applicable base flood elevation calculation, communities impacted by new flood elevation requirements should continue to be offered the preferred risk policy.
We strongly urge you to extend the preferred risk policy for these property owners until the Jamaica Bay flood maps are finalized. It is critical for homeowners already stretched to the limit, and forcing them to pay premiums that are many times what they are paying now is simply unfair under the circumstances, with flood maps that are in need of revision. Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Sen. Charles Schumer Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand Rep. Carolyn McCarthy