Thousands of homes could be removed from the high-risk flood zone in Valley Stream as early as the summer, as the Federal Emergency Management Agency is expected to unveil revised flood maps next week.
A meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 2 at 7 p.m. in the Village Hall courtroom with representatives from FEMA and Sen. Charles Schumer. There, officials will announcement changes to the maps that went into effect in September 2009.
“It’s a very good feeling to know that we have a very good possibility of being removed from these maps,” said Valley Stream Community Association President Carol Crupi. “But until I know for sure I am going to hold back too much excitement.”
Crupi, a resident of Gibson, has been a leader in the fight against the flood maps for the past three years. Several thousands homes in that section of the village were added to the high-risk flood zone in 2009, however homeowners have contended that they don’t belong there because the neighborhood doesn’t flood.
At the direction of Congress, FEMA had to go back to the drawing back and come up with new Nassau County maps using relevant, local data. The new maps that will be released next week will include information from the New York City coastal analysis and Jamaica Bay study.
Crupi said that she expects hundreds of homeowners to attend next week’s meeting and that there are many questions that need to be answered. She wants to know if anyone will be refunded premiums they paid in 2010 if it is determined their property was erroneously put into the flood zone. Additionally, Crupi said she is concerned that residents might have to renew their flood insurance policy in the coming months, even if their home is set to come out of the flood zone next year.
It is expected that the base flood elevation — the minimum elevation of a property to be excluded from the flood zone — will be lowered by about a foot from 11 feet, 4 inches, according to village Building Superintendent Thomas McAleer.
Crupi said she still believes that FEMA should lower it to the 8-foot level that was in place for years before the new maps went into effect. Still, the reduction is enough where it is likely to remove thousands of homes in Gibson from the flood zone.
Marc Tenzer, president of the Mill Brook Civic Association which represents 811 homes in South Valley Stream, said he hopes his neighborhood is also removed from the flood zone. He said that flood insurance should be optional, not mandatory for people who have mortgages.
“It’s a step in the right direction for those people who didn’t get flooded,” Tenzer said of the forthcoming changes. “For the most part, Mill Brook should be out of the flood zone.”
Mayor Ed Fare said that village officials will be scrutinizing the new maps. He said there are areas of Valley Stream that simply don’t belong in the flood zone and wants those removed. “The map changes must be closely analyzed,” he said. “My concerns will remain with those homeowners that remain in the flood zone.”
Fare said that if a home is kept in the flood zone, he wants to ensure that those owners won’t have to pay exorbitant insurance premiums, like the $2,000 and higher annual payments some residents had to make when the maps first went into effect. Instead, he wants those homeowners to remain eligible for the Preferred Risk Policy rate of about $400 a year.