Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Quirks in City's Flood Maps May Be Corrected

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Quirks in City's Flood Maps May Be Corrected

Article excerpt

PATERSON -- In the 30 years that Mable Richardson has lived in the People's Park neighborhood, there hasn't been a storm so powerful that it flooded her street.

Even when many parts of Paterson were inundated after Tropical Storm Irene hit the region in 2011, Richardson said her stretch of East 30th Street was spared from the historic floods. A quick look at almost any map of the city would show why. Living where she does in People's Park, a section of dozens of blocks southeast of the downtown, Richardson is almost a mile away from the nearest waterway, the Passaic River.

But there's one map that says otherwise -- that's the one that delineates city flood zones. Because Richardson's street is circled as being within a flood zone, she and her neighbors must buy flood insurance that costs them as much as $3,300 a year in some instances.

"I'm not near the river," said Richardson. "I'm upland from it."

"We never have any flooding," said her neighbor, Mariah Mack, who said she bought her home on East 30th Street in 1986. "Why do we need flood insurance?"

Last week, a representative from the Federal Emergency Management Agency met with three City Council members and staff members for Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. to discuss apparent anomalies in the city's flood maps.

"It's unfair that the residents have to pay for flood insurance where it is not needed," said Councilman Andre Sayegh. "Everyone on the block signed our petition, and I will continue to exhaust all advocacy avenues to ensure that this situation is appropriately rectified for the neighborhood."

Sayegh said federal officials told him that getting the flood maps changed may be an expensive proposition -- one that could entail a citywide engineering study that may cost as much as $1 million. The city is struggling with a $25 million budget gap and likely cannot afford such an expenditure at this time, officials said.

But the federal emergency management representative who attended last week's meeting said there may be another way to get the maps adjusted. …

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