2013-12-06 / Front Page


Some Destroyed Homes Considered Low Risk
By Kevin Boyle

As The Wave was going to press the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released Preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) for New York City.

A quick glance at the maps is sure to cause bewilderment. Oceanfront properties, for example, destroyed by Sandy, remain in lowrisk X zones.

These maps are essentially the same as those released in June but represent a step closer in establishing new maps that will trigger flood insurance rates likely to have significant impact on thousands of New Yorkers.

The release of the Preliminary FIRMs indicates the first step in the official regulatory review process. The next step is a statutory 90- day appeal and comment period, which is expected to begin in Spring 2014. Property owners and interested parties will have the opportunity to appeal the Preliminary FIRMs by submitting technical documentation to New York City during this period. Once the appeal period is over, and all appeals are resolved, FEMA will issue a Letter of Final Determination (LFD) to the City that initiates the six-month adoption period before the maps become effective.

Upon becoming effective, expected to occur in 2015, the new FIRMs will determine flood insurance rates. In the meantime, to promote higher standards for building performance and reduce potential future flood insurance costs, the City has revised the building code to require the standards reflected in the Preliminary FIRMs for the construction of new and substantially improved structures.

As previously reported, much of Rockaway has been moved to A Zones which come with steep insurance rates. The maps are full of head scratching designations. As mentioned, a number of oceanfront homes in Neponsit and Belle Harbor which were destroyed by Sandy remain in low risk X Zone. The beach directly in front of these homes is in V Zone – the costliest insurance zone that is subject to direct wave action.

The Wave has asked the City’s Office of Resiliency and FEMA for clarification about how such designations came to be. The Wave has also requested how exactly residents can gather “technical documentation” to appeal these FIRMs.

To view zone designations throughout Rockaway and other areas, go to region2coastal.com/. On the right side of the page is a link: Now Available: Preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Maps.

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