Revised Map To Go Into Effect September 26
Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will transition to a revised flood map for the City of Buffalo beginning September 26, 2008. The new flood map, first proposed by FEMA almost a year ago at the urging of Congressman Higgins, results in an approximately 90% reduction in flood plain size for South Buffalo and Kaisertown. “For too long, the requirement to carry flood insurance has placed a heavy financial burden on local homeowners living within FEMA designated food zones and suppressed the potential for significant economic development in these areas,” said Congressman Higgins. “We laid out the facts and made our case to the federal government and as a result, this flood zone classification will be lifted significantly, relieving thousands of local property owners from paying this unwarranted flood insurance.”
Under the existing map 2,700 properties in the City of Buffalo are classified as falling within a 100-year floodplain. Under federal law, owners of these properties are required to purchase flood insurance if they have a mortgage or other bank financing associated with their property. This mandatory insurance costs home and business owners hundreds of dollars annually.
Congressman Higgins noted that over the last 30 years, homeowners and businesses in Erie County have paid $35 million into the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and received only $8 million back. Higgins said, “Historically local residents have been victims of a fundamentally unfair system that forces low risk communities like Western New York to subsidize high risk communities in other regions of the Country.”
Of the 34 billion which has been paid into the NFIP nationally over the past thirty years, $15 billion has gone to Louisiana, despite the fact that Louisiana has paid less than $3 billion into the program.
Extensive research by Congressman Higgins’ office found that improvements made in the Buffalo River and Cazenovia Creek area should qualify under federal regulations as measures sufficient to protect local residents from flood risk warranting the need for flood insurance. Given this finding, Congressman Higgins asked FEMA to amend the map which currently qualifies the effected area in Buffalo as a flood zone.
Specifically, Higgins pointed out to FEMA that mitigation efforts have been made to protect the existing flood zone area. Alterations made to Cazenovia Park in the 1960’s and the more recently installed West Seneca Ice Retention Structure, designed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, drastically reduces the likelihood of any substantial ice-jam and free-flow reiverine flooding.
A draft of the revised map for Buffalo was released to the public in October of 2007. Public hearings were held to allow the public to view the new map. The revised FEMA flood map for Buffalo is scheduled to go into effect September 26th. The changes which take effect this month will not impact the Old First Ward or other neighborhoods downstream of Bailey Avenue