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Schumer Introduces New Legislation for Five-Year Flood Insurance Moratorium

Bill would put five-year Hold on FEMA requirement that residents included in new flood zones must purchase expensive insurance.

United States Senators Charles E. Schumer and Richard Durbin introduced a five-year moratorium Thursday on the requirement that Long Island homeowners purchase expensive new flood insurance policies if they live in a community recently designated as a flood zone. Schumer has been highly critical of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) flood mapping techniques and has been pushing the agency to go back to the drawing board to devise a flood map plan that reflects the on-the-ground realities of communities now being impacted by new flood elevation requirements.

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, introduced with Durbin of Illinois, would waive the federal requirement to purchase flood insurance for a five-year period, and make Preferred Risk Policies (PRPs) – a low-cost alternative – available for homeowners who wish to purchase the insurance or are required by their lender to do so. Schumer's bill would also phase in the amount of flood insurance required over an additional five years following the end of the five-year moratorium.

"This legislation would provide relief to Long Island homeowners who are staring in the face of thousands of dollars in additional costs they simply can't afford," Schumer said. "A five-year moratorium and access to cheaper rates, will give homeowners the time to challenge these maps more effectively and allow us to more fully examine the methods FEMA used to draft these new maps."

At a meeting in Valley Stream Village Hall this past September, Schumer pointed out that the maps used are inaccurate, outdated, and have flawed survey techniques. He 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 increase base flood elevations. Schumer questioned the scientific and historical justification for some of these increases.

In September 2009, FEMA implemented new flood maps throughout Nassau County that forced over 20,000 new homeowners to purchase flood insurance plans, that most had previously not been required to have, of 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.

Testifying at a Senate Banking Committee hearing in September, Schumer laid out a series of concerns with the maps including the use of old GIS data mapping techniques that can be inexact in measuring elevation levels of homes and failure to include historical data on flooding in impacted communities.

"Serious and credible concerns have been raised by residents and local communities about access to and accuracy of the data that was used to impose these maps," Schumer said. "This bill will provide a significant reprieve to residents as we continue to sort out and scrutinize the modeling that was used to create these maps."

Claudia Borecky December 14, 2010 at 07:49 PM
Schumer is easing the pain of Long Islanders who are bearing the brunt of a FEMA law that was implemented during the Bush administration with the intention of passing the burden of federal relief onto the homeowners because of the devastating cost that Katrina had on federal funds. I understand that by shaming our congressman, you mean Peter King, but I fail to understand who you are blaming when you shame the City. We do not live in a city. What city do you mean?
Eddie December 14, 2010 at 10:39 PM
I live in the City of Long Beach. Neither my Congressman, my Senator nor the City of Long Beach did anything to prevent virtually the entire City of Long Beach from being placed in an arbitrary "flood zone." Quite the contrary. Unlike other other areas which effectively fought the designation, the City of Long Beach, Nassau County, King and Schumer welcomed the designations. King won't even answer constituents' concerns about the issue and the five year reprieve offered by Schumer's legislation is an insult.
Joe Baker December 16, 2010 at 05:37 AM
It's really a shame that residents , especially seniors and retirees with fixed incomes and tight budgets ,have to pay up to $2,000 per year for this new required "insurance". Those who met the deadline in September 2009 were included in the less expensive "Preferred Risk Policy" rate with premiuns costing between $300-$400. Those who did not meet the deadline paid the higher X Zone rate in 2009 and again when they renewed in 2010. At renewal time in 2011 and 2012 everyone will be eligible for the lower PRP rate, but at renewal time in 2013, everyone will then be required topay the higher XZone rate. Mortgage lenders and banks will purchase insurance for you and usually escrow the costs but most always will be the higher premium. One of my neighbors, a 90 year old widow, says that she is forced to sell the home she has lived in for almost 70 years. She has paid high school taxes for almost 70 years and now high "flood taxes" without having a flood for 70 years. Her house will be less desireable for a prospective buyer because of this added expense. It's incumbent for our elected officials to resolve this issue not only for just a year or two but forever for the sake of keeping Long Islanders on Long Island.
Dorothy Loughran December 16, 2010 at 05:54 PM
I say H**l with Schumer. I belive - and have believed for some time - that Long Island should secede from the State of New York and bcome our own state or entity. What a lot of grief and money that would releive us from.
Eddie December 17, 2010 at 02:32 PM
With 70 incumbent Democrats dumped in the last election, why don't they get it? If Schumer and King, who is Long Island's last Republican don't act to squash this $2500 per house, let's remember to do our jobs and get rid of them too.

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