Recently, residents of the FEMA designated “AE” flood zone in Gibson were informed through newspaper articles and statements by some government officials, that legislation has been passed and enacted preserving the preferred rate of approximately $400.00 per year for Gibson homeowners, who are required to purchase flood insurance beyond the December 31st, 2012 deadline. The legislation forestalls the enactment of insurance rates, which could have gone to $3000.00 per year, for an indefinite period of time contemporaneous with a mandate for FEMA to develop new maps for select areas of Nassau County. Local officials urged FEMA to take the suggested acts, as aforesaid, to avoid severe economic hardship on the owners of “AE” designated properties and to avoid economic chaos in affected communities.
The recent action taken by the federal government is understandable and appreciated by the “victims” of FEMA’s grotesque “AE” designations implemented three years ago. That process began when FEMA used maps created and based upon the geography and topography of the eastern end of Long Island and applied them to Nassau County. The implementation of those maps included FEMA changing the elevation requirement for exemption from “AE” (high risk) flood zone status from 8 feet to 11 feet 4 inches. At 8 feet almost all of Gibson was exempt. Eleven feet four inches was just beyond the elevation of almost all Gibson properties and hence Gibson, without any history of flooding, became an “AE” high risk flood zone area mandated to pay exorbitant flood insurance rates. There was and is no scientific knowledge or historical evidence to justify the change in the elevation requirement. Those who were in Gibson last August when three events (a hurricane, an earthquake and a day with an 11 inch rainfall) saw Gibson’s present was consistent with its past. Gibson had no floods, no earthquake damage and no power outages. Gibson barely had mud puddles. It is ironic that the citizens of Gibson were urged to evacuate during the hurricane to north of Sunrise Highway. That area experienced flooding while Gibson did not. Those events accentuate and highlight the despicable and insensitive nature of FEMA’s designation of Gibson as an “AE” flood zone.
I urge all Gibson residents to avoid being lulled by the recent legislation into a false sense of complacency. Nothing has really changed.
1-FEMA HAS NOT RESTORED THE 8 FEET EXEMPTION LEVEL WHICH WOULD IMMEDIATELY CORRECT THE NIGHTMARE THEY CREATED.
2-FEMA HAS NOT DEVELOPED MAPS CONSISTENT WITH GIBSON”S GEOGRAPHY, TOPOGRAPHY AND HISTORY. IN FACT, THE PROCESS AND APPROACH BEING TAKEN BY FEMA REMAINS A MYSTERY.
3-THEY HAVE MADE NO PROVISION OR EXPRESSED ANY DESIRE TO MAKE PROVISIONS FOR THOSE HOMEOWNERS WHO HAVE PAID MANDATED FLOOD INSURANCE PREMIUMS THAT SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN ENACTED, OR LOST OR LEFT THEIR HOMES BECAUSE OF THE INABILITY TO PAY THOSE REPUGNANT AND REPREHENSIBLE FLOOD INSURANCE PREMIUMS.
However, also not to be ignored is the fact that three years ago local government officials had an opportunity to object to FEMA’s maps and chose not to do so. At that time the problem might have been nipped in the bud so to speak. Now local officials want us to revel in this recent legislation, although this legislation has not corrected the problem and more importantly HAS NOT RESTORED OUR PROPERTY VALUES. And yet these same officials are coming to us in this election year seeking our votes. They do that believing that we are either stupid or politically impotent. I would urge all Gibson residents on Election Day to do the following:
Do not vote for any of the candidates for U.S. Representative. Representative McCarthy has had three years to CORRECT this problem. For the first two years of the FEMA problem her party controlled the Congress and the Executive Branch of the government. With the stroke of a pen the President could have issued an executive order restoring the 8 ft. level and Rep. McCarthy could have made more than 600 daily speeches urging that.
Mr. Becker had the same amount of time to fight and achieve the enactment of local county legislation giving tax relief to the victims of FEMA in Gibson. After all, how do you assess the value of a house that cannot be sold??
Then there is Mr. Scaturro. He came to a meeting of the Valley Stream Community Association where he heard an expert totally discredit FEMA’s flood maps and the designations created by those maps. I have not read any statement by him indicating that a priority for him would be the elimination of the “AE” designation of Gibson by FEMA.
In my brief political adventure a year and a half ago I learned one basic postulate. Politicians and government officials count votes and respond to vote counts. I would strongly suggest that all of my fellow Gibson residents consider the following:
1- Instead of voting for any of the listed candidates for U.S Representative, write in a name. IT CAN BE YOUR NAME OR THE NAME OF ANY ELIGIBLE RESIDENT OF our district. If we withhold our votes for that office in this election, two years from now we will be considered a united voting bloc and candidates will seek the Gibson vote and begin to take concrete steps to obtain that vote. Remember, you have an absolute right to write in your choice for Congress.
2-Do not vote for President Obama. He has had the power to correct the FEMA problem from its inception. When the former director of FEMA messed up the Katrina situation in New Orleans, Pres. Bush replaced him. The President has failed Gibson.
Remember, if you vote for a candidate, you send a message of approval to that candidate. Do you really want to send such a message to Mrs. McCarthy, Mr. Becker, Mr. Scaturro and President Obama?? By the way, do not forget not to vote for Sen.Gillibrand. I have found Sen. Gillibrand to be the least responsive to our requests for assistance.
The flood insurance problem has not been solved. Do not waste the opportunity to use this chance to send a message to the government officials who have had three years to right a terrible wrong.