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FEMA: New Flood Plain Zone Maps Offer Grandfathering

New Nassau County flood plain maps are coming out in September. On Thursday July 23, a meeting sponsored by Nassau County Legislator Diane Yatauro’s office along with the Village of Bayville was held at the community center on Bayville Avenue. Though sparsely attended by about a dozen residents, it was an important last-chance effort to get the word out about the FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) flood plain map changes that become effective September 11, 2009.

For residents who find themselves placed in a higher risk zone than they were previously, there is a grandfather rule that allows property owners to benefit from the insurance rating if they have coverage under the old maps before the map changeover date. The critical item is that there is a 30-day waiting period for a policy to become effective, so action must be taken immediately.

Speaker for the evening Richard Einhorn, Natural Hazards Region II Program Specialist, indicated that it is up to individual residents to check the maps to see whether they are negatively affected by a category change. If they want insurance, but do not currently have it, they should look to getting it now, since there is a 30-day wait period before policies take effect.

Laurie Huenteo, special assistant to Legislator Diane Yatauro said, “The new maps go into effect on 9/11/09 so in order to be grandfathered in, it is best to do so as soon as possible.”

Individuals who are most affected are those carrying mortgages and homeowner policies which often require flood insurance. A bank or homeowner coverage from an insurer currently not requiring federal flood insurance may do so if the owner is placed in a higher risk zone. If a long time owner is thinking of selling their home in the near future, being grandfathered into a lower FEMA rating can also be a selling point to prospective owners who are likely to require a mortgage.

According to FEMA literature, many of the nation’s leading property and casualty insurance companies have opened their doors to flood insurance under a Write Your Own (WYO) program by signing an arrangement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. All policies are financially backed by the federal government and companies must follow the rules and regulations of the program. Policies may also be written directly with the Federal Government through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) servicing agent. For more information regarding insurers go to www.fema.gov/nfpInsurance/companies.jsp.

In addition to Mr. Einhorn and Legislator Yatauro, present to answer questions at the meeting were Bayville Mayor Victoria Siegel; Commissioner of the Nassau County Office of Emergency Management James Callahan; and New York State Emergency Management Office Region 1 Director Theodore Fisch.

Additional websites to check:

(1) http://www.fema.gov/

(2) http://www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/ (put in your address and this will tell you the current risk zone. Currently using the old maps, not the new ones until September).

(3) http://msc.fema.gov/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/FemaWelcomeView?storeId=10001&catalogId=10001&langId=-1 (these are the existing, soon to be old, maps. Type in your address at top left. Mr. Einhorn suggests to downloading the map rather than zooming in online as it is often faster).

(4) http://rmc.mapmodteam.com/rmc2/Counties.htm (these are the preliminary, soon to be new maps as of September).