Thousands of Staten Islanders to save on future flood insurance costs
Thousands of Staten Island homeowners will save on future insurance costs when new federal flood maps are revised under an agreement with the city.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency agreed to change proposed maps that would have placed about 13,500 more residents and some 3,000 additional buildings on Staten Island into areas with the greatest risk for flood, officials said on Monday.
The city found that at least 8,000 Staten Islanders and 3,000 borough buildings were unnecessarily mapped as having the greatest risk for flooding.
The maps predict where there is at least a 1 percent chance of flooding every year, known as the 100-year floodplain.
Homeowners in those areas must buy flood insurance to get a federally-backed mortgage. Those wishing to develop or build in the zones have to elevate a certain amount or risk higher insurance premiums.
About 18,100 residents and 8,000 buildings on Staten Island are in the 100-year floodplain under the older maps currently in use.
FEMA proposed new maps after Hurricane Sandy, the first significant update since 1983. The new maps doubled the size of the flood zone.
The proposed maps would have put 31,600 Staten Islanders and 11,000 borough buildings into the highest-risk area.
The city disputed FEMA's methodology last year during the appeal process, arguing the feds overstated the risk of flooding by about 35 percent.
Rep. Dan Donovan (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn) was among lawmakers who supported the city's challenge to the preliminary maps.
"Staten Islanders already face unforeseen and increasingly unaffordable flood insurance premiums," Donovan said in a statement. "Today's good news means homeowners won't face new requirements and increases based on flawed science."
The city's analysis found that about 26,000 buildings and 170,000 residents across the five boroughs were unnecessarily part of the 100-year floodplain in FEMA's preliminary maps.
That includes at least 8,000 residents and 3,000 buildings on Staten Island.
The city also argued that the maps overstated base flood elevations by about 2 feet in many areas of the city.
All of this meant residents could build or elevate to unnecessary heights at extra costs. Homeowners may have also paid higher insurance premiums for being in the 100-year floodplain or because of incorrect base flood elevations.
FEMA eventually agreed with the city. Officials will work together to incorporate growing risks of climate change and sea level rise onto flood maps.
Issuing the revised maps will take years in order to determine flood risk calculations.
Until new maps are done, flood insurance rates will be based on previous maps. The city's building code will still reflect the 2015 preliminary maps.
"We will work closely with FEMA to ensure New Yorkers in the floodplain are prepared, and that the tools to make them more resilient, like flood insurance, remain available and affordable," Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement.