Expert shares advice on flood maps


Roughly 1,600 homes are coming out of the high-risk flood zone in July when the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s new maps take effect for Valley Stream, but more than 900 homes are to remain in the flood zone.

While many homeowners were happy to see that they wouldn’t be required to pay thousands of dollars in flood insurance premiums, other were less than pleased with the new maps.

On March 19, the Valley Stream Community Association hosted a meeting at Central High School for residents to ask questions about the flood maps to Greg de Bruin, of Gayron de Bruin Land Surveying and Engineering PC, based in Bethpage. De Bruin went over the new maps and offered advice to the approximately 25 people in the audience.

In 2009, the maps set a uniform base flood elevation of 11 feet, 4 inches in Valley Stream. That was the minimum property elevation for a home to be excluded from the flood zone. Under the new maps, BFEs are localized to neighborhoods, or even to individual streets and homes, and fall between eight and 10 feet, de Bruin said. “If you’re still in the flood zone,” he said, “FEMA is going to make you still prove that you’re high enough to not pay the ridiculous insurance.”

At the beginning of the meeting, Carol Crupi, the association’s president, said the homeowners living in the high-risk flood zone would probably pay $3,300 or more a year in mandatory insurance come July. She also said that residents within the X-zone, who have the option to buy flood insurance, would probably pay about $1,800 annually. Crupi, whose home will move into the X-zone, said that she does not plan on purchasing flood insurance because she doesn’t think her home will flood.

De Bruin explained that homeowners who wish to get out of the high-risk flood zone could appeal to FEMA by filing a Letter of Map Amendment after a surveyor measures their home’s BFE. “To get considered for a very low premium,” he said, “the lowest floor of your house has to be above [the BFE].”

He went on to say that if a home has a basement, then there is no way to get out of the high-risk flood zone, but if the home’s lowest point happens to be a crawl space, the homeowner could install vents, according to FEMA’s regulations, that would increase the home’s lowest point. “The whole idea of the venting is that if the water was to rise it’s got to be allowed to go into your crawl space and pass out the other side,” he said.

Joe Margolin, a trustee in the Community Association and Gibson homeowner, is one of many residents whose home was not in the high-risk flood zone prior to 2009, and even though the BFE has been restored to eight feet, will still remain in the high-risk zone under the new maps.

“If you were not in the high-risk flood zone prior to 2009, [getting a LOMA] might be something you want to look into,” Crupi said, “because it might possibly get you out of the high-risk zone and avoid the higher insurance policy.”

The village has the option to appeal the new maps up until July, but Mayor Ed Fare has stated that he doesn’t want to jeopardize the 1,600 homes that are getting out of the high-risk zone already. At last week’s meeting, de Bruin stated that in order to appeal the maps, the village would have to hire and engineering firm that would cost “hundreds of thousands of dollars.” De Bruin added that the challenge for the village “would be an impossible undertaking.”