FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 29, 2012
SCHUMER BILL, REQUIRING NEW FLOOD MAPS FOR VALLEY STREAM AND PARTS OF HEMPSTEAD, PASSES CONGRESS AND HEADS TO PRESIDENT FOR SIGNATURE
Schumer Bill Requires FEMA to Apply New Local Data and Redraw Maps With More Accurate Information for Valley Stream and Parts of Hempstead; Will Allow Towns and Villages Opportunity to Challenge Onerous Flood Designation
Bill Will Also Protect Many Homeowners from Immediate Premium Hikes by Phasing In New Premiums for Certain Homeowners Over 5 Years
Schumer: This is a Major Win for Long Island Homeowners and Requires FEMA To Redraw Flood Maps With Local Data
United States Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that his bill requiring FEMA to apply new, local data to adopt more accurate flood maps for Valley Stream and parts of Hempstead that were hit hardest by maps FEMA adopted in 2009 has passed the Congress and is now heading to the president’s desk for a signature. Schumer has led the fight on Long Island against the flood maps adopted by FEMA in 2009, arguing that the Nassau County maps were based on data collected from neighboring Suffolk County, and applied to Nassau County, instead of more accurate, local obtained information.
“This is a major victory for Long Island homeowners who are being crushed by flood insurance costs that they must pay due to inaccurate maps that were based on information obtained from neighboring counties,” said Schumer. “FEMA will now be required to use locally obtained data from Valley Stream and local Nassau County communities that better reflect the realities on the ground. FEMA’s two year effort to impose new maps on Nassau County with Suffolk data was like trying to fit the square peg in a round hole, and we’ve said all along FEMA needs to do better. This bill will require them to do so.”
In September 2009, FEMA implemented new flood maps throughout Nassau County that forced over 20,000 new homeowners to purchase flood insurance plans, with a potential cost of up to $2,000 per year. Communities like Valley Stream and the Town of Hempstead, areas which have little to no recorded history of significant flooding to the new base elevation levels, were treated like coastal communities and residents were required to purchase costly insurance.
At a meeting in Valley Stream Village Hall in September 2010, Schumer pointed out that the Nassau County flood maps adopted in 2009 were inaccurate, because they were based on data collected in neighboring Suffolk County, and, further, that they employed flawed survey techniques. Schumer also noted that some of the impacted communities have no history of significant flooding, yet were included in flood map plans because of FEMA’s decision to inaccurately assign base flood elevations. Schumer questioned the scientific and historical justification for some of these flood map changes.
Schumer’s bill requires FEMA to revise portions of the existing Nassau County flood maps using Nassau-specific data. Upon presentation of those revised maps, localities on Long Island will again have an opportunity to challenge the map revisions.
Schumer also fought to include in the bill a provision requiring certain premium increases to be phased in over a 5-year period, with 20% of the increase becoming payable each year.
“In addition to compelling FEMA to rewrite the flood maps using Nassau-specific data, the bill provides interim payment relief to some hard-pressed Long Island homeowners struggling under new insurance costs. While I will continue to press to remove every unjustified structure from the maps, in the meanwhile, anything that we can do to lighten the load just a little for our struggling middle-class homeowners is progress,” said Schumer.
Under existing law, homeowners who live in an area designated as a flood zone are federally mandated to purchase flood insurance. These policies can cost up to $2,000 per year on Long Island. The bill that passed today allows many homeowners whose premiums are increased as a result of map revisions and certain other circumstances to phase in any increase over five years, avoiding an immediate premium hike.
Schumer has long led the fight against the implementation of new flood maps on Long Island. While challenging the decision by FEMA to utilize Suffolk County data to implement Nassau County maps, Schumer successfully fought to extend Preferred Risk Policies (PRP), a low-cost alternative that costs residents only $200 to $400 per year. With the subsidized PRP policies set to expire on at the end of the year, Schumer recently called on FEMA to extend the PRP until new maps based on local data are adopted. The bill that passed today requires FEMA to revise the Flood Insurance Risk Map based on local data for Valley Stream and the Town of Hempstead, the areas most affected by the 2009 maps.