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FEMA redraws New York flood zone maps

FEMA Monday released its first new maps of the New York City area since the 1980s, designating an additional 35,000 businesses and homes in flood zones of Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Rockaways and Westchester.

FEMA was scheduled to release new flood maps, which determine flood insurance rates, this summer. But after the damage superstorm Sandy caused in the state, the agency used the information regarding where floodwaters reached to streamline the process and release preliminary maps. Homeowners, who are rebuilding, should use the maps as a guide to prevent future flooding, a FEMA spokeswoman said.

"These maps will tell homeowners how high they should be elevated. As they rebuild, they can take that number and bring it to a contractor to save money on flood insurance and protect themselves against future storms," the spokeswoman said.

The maps have changed a great deal, according to the spokeswoman. Every building constructed since the 1980s, newly paved roads or flood walls affect whether an area is now considered a flood zone.

During superstorm Sandy, floodwaters far surpassed what was originally considered the flood-prone Zone A. The damaged areas are now accounted for in the newly released interactive maps.

Residents can visit to find their property's elevation. They are being advised to build 3 feet above base flood elevation.

FEMA admits that residents will initially pay more to rebuild higher, but officials say they will save money long term with lower flood insurance premiums.

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