Flood insurance rate-watch: the city and FEMA can't seem to agree on a new map

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As New York nervously prepares itself for the possibility of another super-storm like Sandy, residents of waterfront neighborhoods have already been hit with rising federal flood insurance rates, as well as costly upgrades to help storm-proof their homes. As FEMA's new, expanded flood zone map heads towards the approval process, 400,000 more New Yorkers could find themselves suddenly located in a potential danger zone, facing lowered property values and skyrocketing monthly insurance costs, the Wall Street Journal reports. And city officials are none too thrilled about that last part.

According to the WSJ, the city recently commissioned its own analysis which resulted in a smaller flood zone that removes 26,000 buildings and 170,000 people from FEMA's projected flood plain—and the prospect of crippling insurance costs. "It's critically important to get these as accurate as possible," Daniel Zarrilli, director of the Mayor's Office of Recovery and Resiliency, told the WSJ, noting that being newly designated as a flood zone "can have a devastating impact on neighborhoods." (For what it's worth, the Port Authority of New York and Jersey City are also challenging FEMA's projections as overreaching, and Jersey City officials plan to submit a letter in support of New York's proposed, less dramatic new flood maps.)

As you likely already know if you live anywhere near the water, the financial stakes here are high, with flood insurance premiums often running between $5,000 and $10,000 a year. But for those of you living in waterfront neighborhoods—or right on the cusp of them—you'll have to sit tight; the city and FEMA are set to begin talks to finalize the new flood maps within the next few weeks, and if they don't come to a consensus, the issue could wind up going to federal court. Meanwhile, this year's storm season is right around the corner.


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