01.27.09

IN PERSONAL CALL TO ACTING FEMA CHIEF, SCHUMER INTENSIFIES PRESSURE TO RE-EXAMINE FLAWED FLOOD MAPS COSTING GATES & OTHER LOCAL HOMEOWNERS HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS IN UNNECESSARY FEES

Tough Economic Times, Gates Homeowners Slapped With Mandatory, Onerous Insurance Costs between $400 - $800 Per Household But FEMA Has Failed to Re-Examine Zones Despite Schumer's Request in December In Personal Phone Call, Schumer Ratchets Up the Pressure on FEMA Administrator to Work With Local Officials and Personally Oversee Flood Map Revisions for Gates, Webster, Irondequoit and Rochester

After pushing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to reexamine homes in the Gates neighborhood of Rochester unjustifiably included in the newly established flood maps zone, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today intensified his push in a personal called to the new acting FEMA administrator Nancy Ward. In the call, Schumer pushed Ward to immediately revise the flood maps at no expense to the individual residents affected. Schumer also called on Ward to work with local officials on flood map problems outside of the Gates neighborhood after hearing residents in the towns of Webster, Irondequoit and the city of Rochester who have also been inexplicably inserted into the map.
 
In December, Schumer sent a letter to former FEMA Administrator Paulison supporting the Town's request to revise the maps to exclude certain properties from the flood zone, but the request has yet to be approved. Schumer today said he was not going to stop fighting until FEMA starts working with local officials to make sure homeowners aren't inexplicably slapped with mandatory and onerous insurance costs.
 
 "Monroe County homeowners are getting slapped with mandatory, onerous flood insurance fees that in many cases could be completely unnecessary - and it couldn't come at a worse time," Schumer said. "It is time for FEMA to stop dragging its feet and get these maps revised immediately. FEMA must work closely with the community to reexamine the homes included in the flood map and fix the inaccuracies in the map quickly. In my call to Ward, she pledged to get back to me immediately with a response to our pressing questions. I will not stop fighting until we can help the homeowners struggling to pay these unnecessary fees."
 
Despite no record of previous flooding, many homes in the Gates community - and more across Monroe County - have been shoehorned into a mandatory Standard Flood Insurance Policy (SFIP) which stipulates the amount of insurance they should pay based on the potential threat of a flood.  Several homeowners have successfully fought FEMA at their own expense, hiring land surveyors that proved their home should not be included in the flood zone.  These surveys cost residents hundreds of dollars each.
 
The new flood maps throughout Monroe County were created as a result of the Federal Emergency Management Agency Flood Map Modernization Initiative. Through this $1 billion project, FEMA is updating local flood maps throughout the nation using digital technology.  Some local flood maps have not been updated in decades.
 
FEMA held a public meeting to brief Gates community leaders and residents on the new maps in October of 2007. Flood maps for all of Monroe County became effective as of August 28, 2008. Local residents who were never in a flood zone before, now must pay $400$1,000 annually to participate in the National Flood Insurance Program. Town officials have contacted FEMA to request a Letter of Map Revision (LOMAR) to remove properties in question from the flood zone.
 
In addition to slamming homeowners with high fees, the current skyhigh insurance fees could deter a homeowner's ability in Gates to sell their homes at market rate and for the community to attract new investment in nearby properties.
 
In December, Schumer visited the Courtright Lane neighborhood of Gates near Buffalo Road and Route 490 to look at properties that residents and local officials believe were inaccurately included in the flood maps. Schumer learned that the town of Gates had already identified many homes that were inaccurately included in the new Flood Insurance Rate Map, which dictates the SFIP, and homeowners were being forced to foot the bill despite the inaccuracies. Schumer sent a letter to former FEMA Administrator Paulison supporting the Town's request to revise the maps to exclude certain properties from the flood zone, but the request has yet to be approved.
 
In an effort to help the town and local homeowners, Schumer personally called Acting FEMA Administrator Nancy Ward urging her to issue the LOMAR immediately and at no expense to the individual resident. On the call, Schumer said he would also send a letter listing the names of other towns such as Webster, Irondequoit and the City of Rochester who are also displeased with the maps. Schumer received assurances that she would have a response in then next two weeks.



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