July 17, 2008

Clinton Asks for Added Meeting on Flood Plain Maps

By Olivia Winslow, Newsday, Melville, N.Y.

Jul. 17--Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency to conduct an additional public meeting in barrier-beach communities on new flood maps in Nassau County, on top of three open houses the agency already scheduled elsewhere.

The new maps would take in an additional 28,000 residential, commercial and public buildings that could be at risk in Nassau County due to storm surge or heavy rains.

In a letter dated yesterday and released by her office, Clinton wrote FEMA administrator R. David Paulison saying "more can be done" and requesting the additional public meeting be conducted closer to barrier beach communities where the new flood maps have their biggest impact. She noted none of the scheduled meetings in Nassau were in those communities.

FEMA open houses already scheduled -- all from 4 to 9 p.m. -- are July 22 at Cantiague Elementary School, 678 Cantiague Rock Rd., Jericho; July 23 at the Theodore Roosevelt Legislative Building, 1550 Franklin St., Garden City; and July 24 at Nassau Community College's College Center Building, 1 Education Dr., East Garden City.

The new flood maps, which go into effect next July, could force thousands of previously exempt property owners to buy flood insurance.

"Among the areas of Nassau that will be greatly impacted by these changes are the barrier beach communities" such as Long Beach, Atlantic Beach and Point Lookout, Clinton wrote. "Long Beach alone is faced with a proposed increase of 3,000 new structures to be added to the floodplain. ... It is imperative that these communities who are faced with such a dramatic change have their needs and questions addressed," she said. Suffolk's new map will be released in the fall.

"We appreciate her drawing that to our attention," Kristina Simpson, a spokeswoman for FEMA's New York regional office, said of Clinton's remarks. Simpson said FEMA had made no decision but took Clinton's request "seriously."

Charles Theofan, Long Beach city manager, cheered Clinton's initiative and said a FEMA meeting in Long Beach is "very much needed. ... Hopefully, the educational process of explaining to us how and why this has occurred will make people feel better about it."


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