All Confused Residents Want To Know Is How Their Locations Impact Insurance

VALLEY STREAM, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Confusion reigns on Long Island in the Village of Valley Stream after the Federal Emergency Management Agency agreed to drop 1,500 homes from its new flood maps.

But that still leaves more than 850 property owners in the new flood zone.

Village leaders said they will challenge that, even as they try to figure out who they are, CBS 2’s Dana Tyler reported Wednesday,

At Valley Stream Village Hall, the building inspector said even with zoom-in graphics sent to him just Tuesday by FEMA, he still can’t tell exactly which properties are in or out of the federal government’s newly revised flood zones.

“I went over to Village Hall a week, a week and a half ago. They couldn’t give me an answer as to whether I was in the zone or out of the zone,” homeowner Margaret Buscemi said.

Buscemi is one of the hundreds of homeowners who would have to pay between $2,000 and $4,000 for flood insurance, but she can’t tell from any of FEMA’s flood maps if she’s been removed from the flood zone, as some of her neighbors just down the block were.

Buscemi lives near a creek that FEMA says is a threat, but she and her neighbors say they’ve never seen it overflow.

“This brook, Motts Creek, is the reason why this area isn’t in jeopardy. This body of water takes all this rain out to Jamaica Bay,” homeowner Phil Gagliano said.

Village leaders say it will cost millions to hire an engineering firm to challenge FEMA, but they are preparing some test cases to do just that, knowing that most taxpayers don’t want to pay for a costly legal challenge that affects less than 10 percent of the village.

“Absolutely, it goes with the territory. If you live by the water you have to pay for the water damage,” homeowner Staci Fields said.

Village leaders said in the interim, they are petitioning federal officials to freeze flood insurance rates until their appeals can be heard. They also said Sen. Charles Schumer’s office is preparing legislation to put a moratorium on those higher insurance premiums for at least a year.

FEMA said detailed engineering studies will be needed to successfully challenge the removal of any of the 850 properties now in the flood zone.

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