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Valley Stream approves new flood maps

Edwin Fare, 50, mayor of Valley Stream, said

Edwin Fare, 50, mayor of Valley Stream, said the village's new flood maps are a major improvement, but some residents said the changes didn't go far enough. (Oct. 22, 2012) Credit: Brittany Wait

Valley Stream's village board has approved new flood maps expected to save hundreds of residents thousands of dollars -- but some residents said the changes didn't go far enough.

A bill passed by Congress in June required the Federal Emergency Management Agency to adopt new flood maps for Valley Stream, Lynbrook, Oceanside and other Nassau County communities. The measure is designed to fix flood map changes from 2009 that added to flood zones 25,000 property owners, ballooning their insurance premiums.

In Valley Stream, 2,404 residents were added to flood zones in the 2009 changes. The new maps reduce that number to 855, village officials said.

Several residents at a Monday night village meeting said they wanted the number reduced to zero. Robert Linton, whose home was added to the flood zone in 2009 and remained in it under new maps, said the changed maps remain unfair.

"The rates should be the same for all the homeowners of Valley Stream," Linton said. "It shouldn't be $400 over here and $4,000 over there."

But Mayor Edwin Fare said the new maps are a major improvement, and approving them will allow the village to continue to lobby for more residents to be removed from flood zones. Fare added that all communities affected by the changed maps had approved the changes except Valley Stream. Valley Stream unanimously approved the changes Monday.

"We lose our right to negotiate if we say no," Fare said. "We're going to say yes and we're going to continue to negotiate."

Some residents said the new maps appeared arbitrary because they show flood zones ending midstreet. FEMA mitigation branch director William McDonnell said the maps are based on scientifically determined likelihood of flooding.

"We're not indicating that the water stops there," McDonnell said. "That's where FEMA delineates the 1 percent annual chance that you will flood at that elevation or higher."

The 2009 flood map changes caused homeowners to spend up to $3,000 annually for flood insurance after most had paid $300 or $400. The changes occurred after FEMA, in an effort to save money, used information extrapolated from a report for Suffolk County.

FEMA officials, local officials and members of Congress have held a battery of public meetings about the flood map changes since.

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