Valley Stream Community Association President Carol Crupi asked whether the base flood elevation — the minimum height a property must be above sea level to be excluded from the flood zone — was being lowered. It was 11 feet, 4 inches under the maps that went into effect in 2009.
Crowley explained that there would no longer be a uniform base flood elevation, but it would now be specific to neighborhoods or even individual properties based on FEMA’s study of the area and the fact that residents wanted flood maps to reflect local topography and flood history. “As the water moves in and flows around, it’s going to impact different areas differently,” Crowley said.
Many people left the computer stations smiling. Among them were John and Gerrie Hopkins, of Sandalwood Avenue. “We got good news,” said Gerrie, noting that they were being taken out of the flood zone. “We don’t mind paying flood insurance, but not $2,500 a year.”
It was high premiums like those that initially sparked residents’ anger. In 2011, after much outcry, FEMA began offering a Preferred Risk Policy rate to residents who renewed their flood insurance, at a cost of about $400 a year.
Eventually, homes that remain in the high-risk flood zone will return to the higher premiums. FEMA officials say they are unsure when that will happen, but it will be several months.
Bruce Sher, who lives in Mill Brook, said his home is remaining in the flood zone, but he hopes he will be able to successfully appeal that designation. “The last two storms, I never used my flood insurance,” he said.
Stefanie Schultz, who lives in the village, said she would be glad to get rid of her annual flood insurance cost. She had some roof damage during the recent storms, she said, but no flooding. “I’m glad,” she said of being removed from the flood zone. “It’s less money to pay.”
Also out of the flood zone is Ann Cunningham, who lives on Roosevelt Avenue. Though her mortgage is paid off, she said she was forced to buy flood insurance when she took out a home equity loan for some repairs.