FEMA flood map (Oct. 20, 2010)

FEMA flood map (Oct. 20, 2010) Credit: Danny Ghitis

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers confirmed Monday it had qualms about FEMA using a Corps study of storm surge in Suffolk to develop a Nassau flood map.

The confirmation came as Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) called for investigations into why the Federal Emergency Management Agency chose in 2004 not to commission a flood model specifically for Nassau in preparing the Nassau map adopted in 2009.

The Corps and FEMA responded that they use the same model that covers the entire South Shore, so there was no need for a separate model for Nassau.

Schumer wrote the inspectors general of the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security on Friday seeking investigations.

Schumer said the Corps had not wanted FEMA to use the Suffolk study for the Nassau flood map because it relied on data that had not undergone full independent scientific review, it lacked sufficient Nassau data, and it had not been validated for that county.

Corps spokesman Kenneth Wells said, "We did have reservations as outlined in the memorandum of understanding" signed by both agencies in 2007, which allowed FEMA to use the study.

In 2004, FEMA asked the Corps how much it would cost to do more work with the model to improve its use for the Nassau map. The estimate to add resolution to the Nassau portion of the model, and gather and input more data into it was $1 million.

"The resolution in the model as it was was good enough for what we needed to do," FEMA spokesman Don Caetano said. "We were trying to be efficient in how we spend the taxpayers' dollars."

Gary Comerford, a spokesman for the Pentagon's inspector general, said of Schumer's request: "We haven't received it yet and when we do, we will evaluate it."

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