Sandy: true test of the flood maps?
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Fare noted that there was some street flooding in the south end of Gibson, along Peninsula Boulevard, as the drainage basin that flows into Jamaica Bay overflowed as a result of the coastal storm surge. Some roads there became impassable at the height of the storm, he explained, but the water never got close to homes.
Small sections of the village did experience coastal flooding, mostly along Hungry Harbor Road and neighboring streets in the “fishhook,” an area that was already part of the high-risk flood zone before new maps went into effect in 2009.
A few dozen houses there were badly flooded. Along Hungry Harbor Road, residents were cleaning out the lower levels of their homes in the wake of the storm, and some said it could be weeks before they could move back in. Dozens of homes in the southwestern corner of the Mill Brook neighborhood, in the Town of Hempstead, were also affected.
Fare said that it is impossible to make a blanket statement that Valley Stream doesn’t belong in the flood zone, because some areas of the village clearly do. It’s the areas that were added in 2009 that are suspect, he explained.
“You’re going to have a tough time telling them there was no flood,” he said of Hungry Harbor Road residents. “They have the tidal basin right behind their houses. You can’t trivialize flooding, because 25 to 50 homes were destroyed by flooding.”
Margolin said that he sympathizes with residents whose homes were damaged, but he also remains concerned about the people who could lose their homes because they can’t afford unnecessary flood insurance. FEMA has come up with some relief, now offering homeowners added to the flood zone in 2009 the Preferred Risk Policy rate of about $400 a year instead of four-figure premiums.
Fare said that the village is keeping precise records of all homes that flooded as a result of Hurricane Sandy. After the storm cleanup is complete, he said, officials will pass that information along to FEMA.