Congressman addresses lingering effects of Sandy
by Andrew Pavia
Apr 18, 2013 | 1404 views | 0 0 comments | 413 413 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Congressman Hakeem Jeffries.
Congressman Hakeem Jeffries.
Residents of the Rockaways and Hurricane Sandy-affected areas are nervous insurance rates will go up if the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) flood maps are revised.

At a recent meeting, officials from FEMA notified community members that no changes to the flood maps would be made in the short term. However, they did not specifically state what would happen when the maps do change in the coming years.

Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, whose district includes the Rockaways, said that there is legislation being discussed on the federal level that would minimize any additional financial burden of insurance for individuals who live in flood-prone areas.

Staten Island Congressman Michael Grimm introduced a bill that would minimize the impact of any premium increase as a result of a flood map change and also stretch out the map changes for the longest period of time.

Members of the New York delegation, such as Congressman Gregory Meeks and Jeffries have already thrown their support behind the bill.

Jeffries said he will be “pushing City Hall to make sure that the funds that were allocated by Congress toward Superstorm Sandy relief go in part toward helping homeowners in making the changes necessary to protect themselves for future storms.”

In the months following Sandy, the city and state created programs and discussed alternative ways of ensuring that the devastation that occurred due to the storm would not be repeated.

Governor Andrew Cuomo initiated a program to buy properties on the waterfront or in flood-prone areas. Some homeowners have begun moving inland more and taking the state money, but Jeffries doesn’t believe it will work for all of his constituents.

“I’m committed to making sure that everyone who wants to stay can stay,” he said. “There is a need to make sure that we increase the structural integrity of the barriers that lie between bodies of water such as the Atlantic Ocean or Jamaica Bay.”

If the flood maps do change, one way to avoid paying higher insurance rates is to increase the elevation of your home.

“It would be very difficult if not impossible in many instance to elevate these homes,” said Jeffries, who also called the plan “incredibly costly.”

Jeffries said that he believes the city is working on alleviating the pressure on homeowners to make the changes necessary to protect their homes from future devastation.

“We are hopeful that a program will be rolled out within the next several weeks,” he said.

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