The Staten Island Advance is reporting that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is revising the floodplain maps issued in January ("New FEMA flood maps will take many Staten Island homes out of zone with most-severe restrictions," by Jillian Jorgensen). Homeowners in many neighborhoods will be relieved to find that requirements for building elevation and construction methods are significantly eased, the paper reports.
"Flood maps and elevations will change yet again over the next few weeks, FEMA and elected officials said, with the number of homes in the most severe "Zone V" shrinking significantly," the Advance writes. "Oakwood Beach, New Dorp Beach, and Tottenville will all see significant areas being changed from V to A Zones, with elevation requirements dropping by 2 to 3 feet; Eltingville and Prince's Bay will see moderate changes from V to A Zones, with a 1-2 foot elevation difference; Huguenot will see minor changes from V to A with minor elevation changes, and South Beach will see some A Zones changed to Shaded X Zones."
It's not happy news for everyone, though. Homeowners who have already started work based on the advisory maps may find that they have undertaken expensive measures that turn out not to be necessary. And for those who have waited, there is more waiting ahead: FEMA's current crop of maps — what the agency is calling "newly created work maps" — is still far from being the final version, the Advance reports. They'll be released in phases starting in May, but are still subject to appeal. When the maps are released, said FEMA spokesperson Denise Everhardt, "FEMA and the state will begin the formal process of working with communities to adopt new standards. After release, there will be a formal appeals process, providing a 90-day opportunity for data to be provided, which could lead to additional changes before the map is finalized."
In New Jersey, FEMA also says that V zones are likely to shrink as advisory flood maps are reviewed and revised, according to a Newsworks New Jersey report ("Rebuilding after Sandy: homeowners in FEMA flood map limbo," by Tracey Samuelson). Bill McDonnell, who oversees Sandy response and mitigation projects in New Jersey for FEMA, told Newsworks, "We do anticipate the V-Zone in certain areas becoming smaller."
"Updated maps will take into account modeling of how waves move over land as they interact with obstacles, such as homes and vegetation," Newsworks says. Brick Township Mayor Stephen Acropolis is advising homeowners to wait for the final guidance if they can: "If you're in a marginal V-zone, do you want to make the decision to knock down your house now because you know you've got to put it on pilings when you may go back to an A-Zone and be able to just raise it and put it on a foundation?"