A change in some map lines is threatening homeowners in low income areas of Syracuse with massive increases in insurance costs. YNN's Bill Carey says the campaign to head off those increases is continuing, with new support from U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- It's not the first time a federal official has toured Onondaga Creek, the waterway that slices through the City of Syracuse.
There has been some flooding along the creek over the years, but the Federal Emergency Management Agency, after a series of unexpectedly severe disasters nationwide, has begun to redraw its estimates of so-called hundred year floods, disaster estimates that require property owners to buy federal flood insurance. The effort is underway to change the agency's mind.
“We've asked FEMA to take a look at the lines again. To redo them. To make sure they're accurate,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
The neighborhoods most affected by this new federal flood risk assessment are among the city's poorest. And there's growing concern about the impact of hundreds of dollars in unexpected insurance costs. The people in those neighborhoods, who say they are just getting by, say the new costs could rob them of their ability to hold on to their homes.
“I know there's going to be an offer of a discount. You know, lo and behold, we got a little discount for people who join the club. The hundred year flood club,” said Rich Pachulski of Syracuse United Neighbors.
The City of Syracuse says it won't accept the new FEMA maps as is. It's launched a major review to see if some of the new lines can be changed.
“Sometimes there are old maps that are used, that have a lot of old infrastructure. We're looking at every single line to make sure that we have an accurate assessment of what this flood map really is,” said Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner.
Gillibrand said, “There's a lot of things the mayor's identified that could be done to mitigate the risk of flood. There's a number of train bridges along the creek that could easily be taken out to lower the level of the water and reduce the risk of flooding. Those kinds of simple changes could make a huge difference.”
Gillibrand telling neighbors facing the risk of big insurance premium increases not to give up hope.
The City of Syracuse, through its U.S. Senators, is asking FEMA to delay the effective date of the new maps as it collects evidence to back up its call for changes.