April 21, 2009

Gillibrand Urges FEMA To Work With Rochester And Western New York Communities To Resolve Floodplain Maps

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today urged Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials to work with Rochester and Western New York Communities to resolve concerns over the floodplain maps. The Town of Pendleton, the Town of Wheatfield and the City and Town of Lockport have concerns over the revised 100 year floodplain maps designated by FEMA. The communities feel they have compelling evidence that they were wrongly placed in the flood zone when FEMA updated the floodplain maps. As a result, these problems have left property owners to pay an unjustified price for incorrect maps.
 
In a letter to Nancy Ward, Acting Administrator for FEMA, Senator Gillibrand wrote, “The National Flood Insurance Program plays a vital role in our national disaster management plan, but if the program is to work to the best of its ability, the data upon which it is based must be accurate and effective… It is critical that we ensure these property designations are done accurately, so as not to leave New York residents burdened with unnecessary insurance bills. I hope that all parties will work for a solution that is best for FEMA, the municipalities, and local residents.”
 
In the Niagara County Town of Wheatfield, several hundred properties were added to flood zones. After a ground level survey, more than half of the property additions have been removed. The remaining properties in the flood zones are still being disputed. Senator Gillibrand asked that FEMA officials continue to work with the town for a resolution.
 
The towns of Lockport, Pendleton and Gates also believe they have evidence challenging the floodplain maps. The Town of Lockport is currently conducting their own surveys which would challenge the flood zones, and is appealing the FEMA designation. The Town of Pendleton believes there may be inaccuracies with hydrologic models used by FEMA to expand the amount of land in the town that it would consider a floodplain area. Residents in Monroe County, for example, in the Town of Gates have had the same concerns.
 
Senator Gillibrand called on FEMA to be responsive to these towns’ concerns and work with them for a just solution.