Hope for flood zone homeowners
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In response to the outrage fueled by the implementation of the 2009 maps, FEMA offered a Preferred Risk Policy to homes that were added to the high-risk zone, for about $400 per year. That rate is set to expire with the implementation of the new maps, but the Senate bill would freeze the lower rate, at least temporarily.
Sen. Charles Schumer, who has been to Valley Stream several times to lobby for accurate flood maps, said he supports the legislation. “These homeowners, through no fault of their own and despite the fact that they purchased properties that were up to code, now face flood insurance premiums that are so high, some will be forced to consider leaving their homes,” Schumer said. “We simply can’t let that happen, which is why I’m co-sponsoring legislation that will provide a one-year moratorium while we develop a longer-term solution.”
Mayor Ed Fare said that the village has been lobbying for lower flood insurance rates for the past few years. He added that premiums of $2,000 or more per year are absurd, but annual rates of $400 to $500 are much easier to stomach.
“I’d like the homes that are in the flood zone to be able to get flood insurance, and to be protected in case there’s a flood, and for that protection to be affordable,” he said. “Everyone should be entitled to flood insurance.”
He said he also hopes that the federal government will work to create legislation that permanently extends the lower rates.
At the July 15 public hearing on the new flood map at Village Hall, residents learned that they are paying a wide range of rates for insurance, even though premiums are set by FEMA. Some homeowners said they were being charged amounts that were inconsistent with the Preferred Risk Policy rates that FEMA offered.
Blendi Koroveshi said he has spent about $7,500 on flood insurance since he purchased his home a few years ago, and estimated that he would spend $120,000 on premiums over the life of a 30-year mortgage. “It’s not chump change,” he said at the meeting. “I could put my son through a very good school for that money.”