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Friday, October 31, 2014

A three-year battle for flood map reform
(Page 3 of 5)
Andrew Hackmack/Herald
Valley Stream residents were able to check their new flood zone designation when new maps were released on Jan. 2.

“Hindsight is 20/20,” Fare said of adopting the maps in 2009. However, he said the village officials have taken a proactive approach since they learned of the problem, reaching out to the federal officials who could help — McCarthy, Schumer, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and later Congressman Gregory Meeks.

Crupi said Schumer, who has come to Valley Stream three times about the issue, including as recently as Jan. 2, and mentioned the community on the Senate floor while pursuing legislation, has offered the most support. “His help has been the best thing that has ever happened to the residents of Gibson,” Crupi said. “Without him, we never would have been able to get this far.”

The Town of Hempstead also stepped in, specifically Councilman James Darcy who represents the 3rd District, which includes all of Valley Stream. He was able to bring FEMA representatives to Village Hall for those meetings with residents in August and October of 2010.

Darcy, who attended the Jan. 2 meeting announcing the map changes, said he was glad that many residents would finally get closure. “We’ve been working on it for a long time,” he said, adding that the removal of homes from the flood zone will benefit the area.

In March 2012, county Legislator Fran Becker, who represents much of the village, held a hearing at the Legislative Chambers in Mineola about the flood maps. The purpose was to hear testimony from residents to pass along to federal officials about how the maps were affecting homeowners.

Over the last three years, residents and local officials have sometimes disagreed over the right steps to take. The village received strong criticism for not challenging the maps in 2009 when it had the opportunity to.

This time around, the village again has the ability to challenge, though officials say that is unlikely. Fare said he is afraid a challenge would delay those 1,600 homes in getting out of the flood zone. “We are compiling data,” he said. “We are definitely still investigating all of our options. We have to. We have to see who is really affected, who is not.”

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