Robert D. Barra is the Valley Stream village clerk.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, love it or hate it, produced new flood maps late last year and asked the village to adopt them into law in order to stay in the National Flood Insurance Program. The controversial 2009 flood maps would now be a thing of the past with the village’s approval.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation also asked us to do likewise in its position as the state coordinating agency for NFIP. The DEC’s chief flood plain manager, William Nechamen, urged us to adopt this measure before the July 16 deadline to keep the village from falling out of eligibility for many useful and needed federal programs.
The adoption process was long and arduous. The village took great pains to hear all sides of the issue, culminating in its July 15 vote to adopt the maps. In the end, this is the only choice the village had in order to allow all of our parcels to be eligible for many of the federal loan programs and less costly zoning-code parameters.
Through the diligence of Mayor Fare, the Board of Trustees and village personnel, Valley Stream was able to work with FEMA to reduce the number of village residents who pay exorbitant flood zone insurance rates from 2,404 to 855. This is a drop of 1,549 village properties no longer in the high-risk flood zone, eligible for refunds and exempt from paying high insurance premiums.
But this is not the end; it is only the beginning of the process. We will continue the fight to help as many of those 855 residents and businesses that are still in the flood zone as we possibly can.
We have already contacted our United States senators and members of Congress about people not having access to the preferred insurance rate of about $400 annually. These property owners are paying thousands of dollars for flood insurance each year.
There has been much clamor over the years about FEMA and its role in the creation of allegedly bogus 2009 flood maps. It appeared to some as though FEMA took the Suffolk County flood maps and simply laid them over a map of Nassau, erroneously determining who was in or out of the flood zone.