Preparedness & Recovery

With Hurricane Season Upon Us, Do You Know Your Flood Zone?

The most recent Staten Islanders, N.Y., maps FEMA produced in December 2013 were appealed by the city and are currently being reviewed and updated.

by Susan Lunny Keag, Staten Island Advance, N.Y. / September 19, 2016
Completely flooded basement next day after Hurricane Sandy on October 30, 2012 in Staten Island. Shutterstock

Staten Islanders know the horrors of a weather emergency firsthand after Hurricane Sandy devastated various areas of the borough in 2012. And as hurricane season officially runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, with the busiest time for the East Coast between mid-August and mid-September, it's important to be prepared.

For Islanders, a first step in preparation is knowing your flood zone.

Flood zones can help you determine the challenges you — and your home — face when weather emergencies arise.

WHERE TO START

The Federal Emergency Management Agency's Region II office creates and updates Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) that highlight flood risk and determine flood insurance and building code requirements. The flood maps detail flood risk zones and their boundaries.

The most recent maps FEMA produced in December 2013 were appealed by the city and are currently being reviewed and updated.

"We had an appeal period for the maps and the city challenged several aspects of our storm surge analysis ... we are still working with the city on resolving that. We hope to have a path forward within the next month or so," noted Andrew Martin, FEMA region II risk analysis branch chief.

However, those who are interested in knowing their flood zone for safety and evacuation purposes can go to the New York City Emergency Management website, where they can find maps and hurricane information.

Another option is to go to FloodHelp.org, a website created by the Center for NYC Neighborhoods, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing foreclosure, rebuilding from Hurricane Sandy, and promoting affordable homeownership in New York City. Martin recommends the "user-friendly" website, which features easy-to-read maps such as the one shown above.

KNOW YOUR ZONES

Those who go to Floodhelp.org, can zoom in on Staten Island to see what zone their neighbhorhood is in. The site also allows you to put in your exact address and email to get more information sent to you about your zone and flood risk.

According to the Floodhelp.org map (see above), areas along the water line, from Arrochar, South Beach, Ocean Breeze, Dongan Hills, Midland Beach and New Dorp Beach fall in the "VE" category — indicating high risk of flooding and waves. Parts of Bay Terrace, Eltingville, Annadale, Prince's Bay, Pleasant Plains and Tottenville also fall in that category.

Bloomfield and Arlington are among the neighborhoods that fall in the "A/ AE/ AO," which indicates high risk and flooding.

Parts of Dongan Hills, Grant City, New Dorp, Oakwood and Bay Terrace are in the "X" or moderate risk zone.

HOW TO PREPARE

Whether you are at high risk or moderate risk, the key to being prepared in case of a weather emergency is to prepare a disaster plan. According to Flood Zone NYC, there are a few key steps to preparing your family and your home for any emergency.

— Prepare a disaster plan: Together with those you live with, develop a plan with your household members that details what to do, how to find each other, and how to communicate if a hurricane or other disaster strikes.

— Have insurance: If you rent your home, renter's insurance will insure the items inside your apartment. However, please remember that if you are a homeowner, make sure your home is properly insured. Also, be mindful that flood and wind damage are not covered in a basic homeowner's policy.

— Know where you will go: If you are told to evacuate, the city strongly recommends evacuees stay with friends or family who live outside evacuation zone boundaries. For those who have no other shelter, hurricane shelters will be open throughout Staten Island and the rest of the city.

— Have an emergency supply kit. According to ready.gov, these kits should include: Prescription medications and glasses, infant formula and diapers, pet food and extra water for your pet, important family documents, and cash or traveler's checks among other items.

NATIONAL PREPAREDNESS MONTH

In light of the 15-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks and the recent catastrophic Louisiana Flood of 2016, September has officially been proclaimed National Preparedness Month by President Obama.

"Let us recognize that each of us can do our part to prepare for emergencies, help those affected by disasters, and ensure all our people have the necessary resources and knowledge to protect themselves," Obama said in a statement.

———

©2016 Staten Island Advance, N.Y.

Visit Staten Island Advance, N.Y. at www.silive.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LL