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Some Syracuse and CNY Homeowners Could See Relief Under Revised National Flood Insurance Program

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Some Syracuse residents who find themselves in a recently designated flood zone near Onondaga Creek might be in for some relief under a revamped National Flood Insurance Program. Residents have been concerned since the flood maps were redrawn, forcing mostly low-income residents to buy flood insurance.

Senator Kirsten Gillbrand says she's working on legislation that aims to address the issue.

"This requires more accurate mapping and it authorizes funding for better technology, so that we can actually have a better mapping of flood risk across the country, reducing confusion and generating better data. And, that'll actually help the residents in Syracuse who are most worried."

For those who might still need flood insurance, Gillibrand says another provision would also ensure residents can afford it.

"They all have a comprehensive means test for the vouchers for millions of low and middle income homeowners and renters, if their flood insurance premium causes their housing costs to exceed 30% of their adjusted growth income.  That deeply changes how the program's run, in terms of affordability."

The same provisions would apply to those who've experienced flooding along the shoreline along Lake Ontario.  Gillibrand says the FEMA-run program also includes a cap on premium rate hikes to act as a safeguard against a new risk rating included in the 

"Homeowners who are told by FEMA that they have an increased risk under this new rating system could see dramatic increases.  So our legislation addressed that specifically, and capped the rate increases at 9 percent."

Gillibrand says under current law, premiums can increase up to 18 percent annually.  The current National Flood Insurance Program expires in two weeks, and Gillibrand sees it as an opportunity to fix a program that she says is broken and riddled with fraud.  She says problems became evident after Superstorm Sandy devastated parts of downstate in 2o12.