FLIRTING WITH DISASTER: FLOOD ZONES STILL UNINSURED YEARS AFTER SANDY
Seven years after Superstorm Sandy deluged New York City, more than eight out of 10 properties in coastal areas the federal government deems extremely vulnerable to the next disaster are without flood insurance, an investigation by THE CITY found.
Meanwhile, the number of flood insurance policies protecting New Yorkers has dropped markedly since the end of 2013 in two of the boroughs hardest hit by the storm: Staten Island, which saw an 18% decline, and Queens, which experienced an 8% decrease.
Residents of roughly 250,000 houses and apartments within red-flagged flood zones are left exposed — thanks to the high cost of insurance policies and a protracted disagreement between local and federal officials.
City and Washington bureaucrats are at least five years away from forging a common set of flood maps that will determine who must buy insurance — leaving New Yorkers reliant on risk ratings little changed since the 1980s.
Mayor Bill de Blasio is disputing the map the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) created in 2015, which significantly expanded areas identified for high risk of flooding, based on Sandy’s path of destruction.
So for now, only property owners with federally backed mortgages who are living within the old, pre-Sandy zone — last updated by FEMA in 2007 — are required to purchase flood insurance.
Homeowners end up mired in confusion over seemingly contradictory rules: In some cases, people whose properties were devastated by Sandy are living without flood insurance while new or rebuilt homes next door must be made floodproof.
As it all gets sorted out, many homeowners are rolling the dice — skipping often-pricey flood insurance and praying another storm doesn’t send the waters of New York Harbor, Jamaica Bay or Buttermilk Channel barrelling into their living rooms.