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Friday, November 28, 2014

News Analysis
A three-year battle for flood map reform
Andrew Hackmack/Herald
Valley Stream residents were able to check their new flood zone designation when new maps were released on Jan. 2.

It’s been a long and often bumpy road to get to this point, but Valley Streamers have finally gotten some closure on the flood zone issue with the release of revised maps three weeks ago by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

But leaders in the fight say there is still more work to be done.

It was Sept. 11, 2009, when new flood maps went into effect in Nassau County, adding about 2,500 homes in Valley Stream to the high-risk flood zone. Any homeowner with a federally-backed mortgage was required to purchase flood insurance, with rates for some exceeding $2,000 per year.

Then in May of 2010, a small group of outraged Gibson residents began meeting at the local train station. The group got bigger, their voices got louder and before long, federal officials began to take notice.

FEMA held a meeting at Valley Stream Village Hall that August, and so many people showed up that there was not enough room for everyone. Another meeting was held in October in Central High School’s auditorium.

Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy and Sen. Charles Schumer both came to Valley Stream. Federal legislation started and stalled in 2011, then finally passed in 2012, directing FEMA to redraw Nassau County’s maps using local, relevant information.

It all finally came to fruition on Jan. 2, when FEMA officials presented those new maps at Village Hall, which are set to remove nearly 1,600 of those 2,500 homes from the flood zone.

More work to be done

Two leaders that emerged in the fight against the flood maps were Carol Crupi and Joseph Margolin. The pair ran for the village Board of Trustees in March 2011 — Margolin for mayor and Crupi for a trustee seat. Their campaign centered on the flood maps as well as other quality of life issues.

Although their bids were unsuccessful, they then launched the Valley Stream Community Association as a new civic group, and the first few meetings have centered on the flood maps and tax relief for homeowners living in the high-risk zone. The next meeting is expected to focus on the newly-released maps.

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