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FEMA releases new flood zone maps for Bronx

Bronx Times

This is one map these Bronx communities DON’T want to be on.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency released its new advisory base of federal flood zone maps for the Bronx this week, adding new stretches of local communities that were battered by SuperStorm Sandy.

Homeowners who now find themselves added to a flood zone will now face a storm of insurance premium increases if the final revised maps are adopted after a public review.

Shoreline properties in Country Club, Spencer Estates, Edgewater Park, Silver Beach, Clason Point and Harding Park all saw flood zones added or expanded.

Maps for the worst-hit parts of Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens and Westchester County were released last month.

Homeowners can look up their addresses at region2coastal.com to see if they are included in the new zones, which could require taking out flood insurance and elevating their homes.

Mortgage companies may also notify homeowners their flood zone status has changed.

The new mapped zones on the web site are shown in dark and light pink shading.

An area shaded in dark pink designates a “V Zone” or a zone where FEMA officials are concerned about wave velocity causing damage to property.

A “V Zone” would require a homeowner fulfill more requirements than an “A Zone” to receive a lower flood insurance premium.

An area shaded in light pink designates an “A Zone” or zone where officials are concerned about storm surges effecting property and recommend property owners elevate their homes or businesses.

FEMA representative Hannah Vick said the new maps were not supposed to be released until Spring 2013, but after Hurricane Sandy devestated much of New York City, the agency wanted to get out as much new data as quickly as possible.

“We didn’t want to not give this information to communities,” Vick said. “Because of Sandy, we had access to new data so we wanted to get it out as soon as we could.”

According to Vick the new maps are not the regulatory maps — those will not be released for another one to two years.

“Right now, we are not saying homeowners need to do anything,” Vick said. “There will be open houses and periods of public comment before the regulatory maps are set and released. These are simply advisory, because now we have a better understanding of storm surges and how things like that work.”

FEMA is recommending in many cases that individuals in communities where flood zones have been changed either elevate their homes and/or strengthen their structures, officials said.

Homeowners in areas where maps were previously released, now face new building codes and shrinking property values, among other costs.

People choosing to ignore the new elevation guidelines could be stuck paying insurance premiums of $9,500 a year for a typical single-family home, compared to $1,410 a year for a homeowner whose house is built at the recommended level. Building a home three feet higher than the recommended guidelines could bring premiums down to $427 a year.

Homes newly added to the flood zone will also now be required to buy flood insurance for the first time if they have a federally backed mortgage.

Homeowners within flood zones will have two years to elevate their properties, and increased premiums will be phased into effect once the maps are put into place in 2015.

Meanwhile, Governor Cuomo announced this week that the deadline for FEMA assistance has been extended to March 29 for the Bronx as well as 12 other disaster declared counties.

Those in need of help can call the FEMA help line at 800-621-3362 from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. EST, seven days a week until further notice. To register, go to www.DisasterAssistance.gov or on smartphone at m.fema.gov.

Senator Jeff Klein said his office will continue to work with people through the rebuilding process.

“As co-chair of the Bipartisan Task Force on Hurricane Sandy Recovery,” he said, “I am working to ensure that any financial relief we can provide to property owners will be made available to Bronx home and business owners.”

Kirsten Sanchez can be reach via e-mail at ksanchez@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3394

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