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New South Nassau flood zone lines draw mixed reaction

Some of the more than 500 South Shore

Some of the more than 500 South Shore Nassau residents at a Valley Stream meeting on flood zones go over a map of newly drawn lines. (Jan. 2, 2013) Photo Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

More than 500 South Shore Nassau residents flocked to a FEMA community meeting Wednesday night to learn if they would be among almost 4,500 property owners removed from the federal flood zone because of updated data.

The newly drawn lines were unveiled by the Federal Emergency Management Agency at the Valley Stream Village Hall, where some residents became jubilant and others swore they'd appeal after examining two large maps or talking with FEMA officials. A recently completed analysis of the New York City coastline led to revisions in the agency's flood insurance maps there and also to updated zone maps for Nassau communities that could be flooded by Jamaica Bay.

"We're thrilled to pieces," said Betsy Tilin of Valley Stream. "It will improve the quality of our lives. We'll probably cancel our flood insurance. It's expensive -- $2,000 a year."

But Susan Delatorre, another Valley Stream resident, was not so lucky. She spotted her house and made a disgusted face. "I'm still in," she said.

Delatorre noted that she was six houses away from a creek and that this group of homes, including hers, was not flooded during superstorm Sandy in October.

She pays $450 a year for flood insurance, the minimum required, and will appeal the revised boundaries to get out of the flood zone.

Under legislation sponsored by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), FEMA was obligated to use the new Jamaica Bay data to update the Nassau map for areas affected by Jamaica Bay.

The agency brought the revised map to the meeting so property owners could see if they were removed from the flood zone. The maps have also been given to the Town of Hempstead and local villages.

The map will be published by FEMA later this month so property owners can check their status that way as well, said Timothy Crowley, FEMA's director of the New York region's Mitigation Division.

FEMA says the changes will lower the flood baseline elevation about 1 foot to about 10.4 feet.

That will take out from the flood zone almost 4,500 property owners in Valley Stream, Cedarhurst, Lynbrook and some surrounding areas.

It will also add about 60 properties to the flood zone, but few structures.

The standing room only meeting, with scores of people forced to wait in the lobby, was attended by several state and local officials as well as FEMA's senior regional administrator, Lynn Canton.

Schumer called the revisions "largely good news" because of the 4,500 homes drawn out of the flood zone.

For more details, call 877-FEMA-MAP.

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