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Schumer Bill Would Put 5 Year Hold on FEMA Requirement that Residents Included in New Flood Zones Must Purchase Expensive Insurance

Schumer Bill Would Also Make Low-Cost Preferred Risk Policies Available to Any Homeowners Who Wish to Purchase Insurance

Schumer: Bill Would Put Hold on Devastating Financial Impacts and Provide Residents With More Time to Challenge Maps

Last week, United States Senators Charles E. Schumer and Richard Durbin (D-IL), introduced a five-year moratorium on the requirement that New York homeowners purchase expensive new flood insurance policies if they live in a community designated as a flood zone since September 30th, 2007. Schumer has been highly critical of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) flood mapping techniques and has been pushing the agency to go back to the drawing board to devise a flood map plan that reflects the on-the-ground realities of communities now being impacted by new flood elevation requirements. Under existing law, homeowners who live in an area designated as a flood zone are federally mandated to purchase flood insurance. These policies can cost up to $2,000 per year across the state. The bill would waive the federal requirement to purchase flood insurance for a five-year period, and make Preferred Risk Policies (PRPs) - a low-cost alternative - available for homeowners who wish to purchase the insurance or are required by their lender to do so. Schumer's bill would also phase in the amount of flood insurance required over an additional five years following the end of the five-year moratorium.

"This legislation would provide relief to New York homeowners who are staring in the face of thousands of dollars in additional costs they simply can't afford," said Schumer. "A five-year moratorium and access to cheaper rates, will give homeowners the time to challenge these maps more effectively and allow us to more fully examine the methods FEMA used to draft these new maps."

Testifying at a Senate Banking Committee hearing in September, Schumer laid out a series of concerns with the maps including the use of old GIS data mapping techniques that can be inexact in measuring elevation levels of homes and failure to include historical data on flooding in impacted communities.

"Serious and credible concerns have been raised by residents and local communities about access to and accuracy of the data that was used to impose these maps," said Schumer. "This bill will provide a significant reprieve to residents as we continue to sort out and scrutinize the modeling that was used to create these maps."