Congressman Brian Higgins announced today that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has redrawn flood zone maps resulting in an approximately 90% reduction in flood plain size for the City of Buffalo.
Currently approximately 2,700 properties in the City of Buffalo are classified as falling within a flood zone. Under federal law, owners of these properties must purchase flood insurance if they have a mortgage or other bank financing secured by these properties. This mandatory insurance costs home and business owners hundreds of dollars annually.
“For too long, the requirement to carry flood insurance within this affected area has placed a heavy financial burden on local homeowners and stunted the potential for significant economic development,” said Congressman Higgins. “The new map represents a significant victory lifting this burden within most of the neighborhoods impacted but our fight continues to reverse this unjustified designation on all communities in Erie and Chautauqua Counties.”
Last year, Congressman Higgins uncovered a 1972 study from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers which said flatly that if the City of Buffalo undertook certain mitigation efforts that those mitigations would “protect the floodplain from a stage having an recurrence interval of 100 years.” Because the City of Buffalo and neighboring municipalities had already completed all of the flood mitigation measures proscribed in the 1972 report and more mitigation efforts, the Congressman wrote to FEMA and demanded a revision of the flood maps for South Buffalo and Kaisertown which would like the onerous flood insurance requirement.
Alterations made to Cazenovia Park in the 1960’s and the recently completed West Seneca Ice Retention Structure project drastically reduces the likelihood of any substantial ice-jam and free-flow riverine flooding.
"Upon taking office my Administration worked aggressively with FEMA and our entire delegation to alleviate the impact of the flood plain designation on residents and businesses in South Buffalo. I applaud Congressman Higgins for spearheading this effort to exempt the City of Buffalo from the requirements of the National Flood Insurance program," said Mayor Byron Brown. "With the efforts that have taken place to protect the affected residential areas in South Buffalo, the likelihood of annual flooding has been mitigated and this exemption will save local homeowners money that they would otherwise have to spend on flood insurance.”
In April of 2006 Buffalo South District Councilman Michael Kearns and Lovejoy Councilman Richard Fontana conducted a survey of residents and businesses in the Flood Plain which provided necessary details in the argument against the flood designation.
This year Congressman Higgins was the only Democrat to vote against the national flood insurance bill in the House of Representatives. Last year he was one of only 4 Members of the House to oppose the bill.
“The National Flood Insurance Program is flawed. By including communities that are at no or little risk of flooding, this bill has the unintended consequence of forcing struggling communities, like the one I represent, to subsidize the cost of flood insurance across the country,” added Higgins.