A three-year battle for flood map reform

(Page 2 of 5)

Crupi’s property will come out of the high-risk flood zone. Margolin’s will remain in. Although Crupi said her situation is resolved, she said she will continue to fight for everyone else remaining in the flood zone who shouldn’t be there. “With regard to the maps, I don’t think it’s over yet,” she said. “Unfortunately, the crusade goes on.”

Margolin said he is a bit perplexed that his home will still be in the flood zone, considering the base flood elevation will be returned to the 8-foot level it was at before September 2009, when he was not in the zone. The base flood elevation is the minimum height a property must be above sea level to be excluded from the flood zone.

In 2009, the maps set a uniform base flood elevation of 11 feet, 4 inches in Valley Stream. Under the new maps, BFEs are localized to neighborhoods, or even to individual streets and homes.

Crupi’s new base flood elevation will be 10 feet, and she said she misses staying in the flood zone, which ends at the curb in front of her home, by an inch. She and Margolin live just a few blocks from each other, so Crupi questions why they need to meet different elevation criteria, especially in an area that’s relatively flat.

Government’s role

While any changes to the flood maps or insurance requirements can only be made at the federal level, local government officials stepped into the fight.

Ed Fare, who was elected mayor in March 2011, was a trustee when the maps were adopted in 2009, as well as when the problem was brought to the village’s attention the following year. “No one gave it a second thought in 2009,” he said. “We went a year before anything actually hit that these maps were a problem.”

Fare said that Valley Stream officials were told by FEMA in 2009 that if the board did not adopt the maps, no one in the village would be eligible to buy flood insurance if they wanted it. Village officials thought that by adopting the maps, residents would be “grandfathered in” to their old zone if they purchased flood insurance before the Sept. 11 implementation. That wasn’t the case. Many residents bought policies ahead of time, then were shocked by the premium increases when they got their renewals in 2010.

Page 2 / 5