Fulton County

Schumer calls on FEMA to redraw Johnstown flood maps

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer is calling on the Federal Emergency Management Agency to work with the cit
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., urges the Federal Emergency Management Agency to work with the city of Johnstown to redraw its outdated flood maps during a news conference Friday at the Johnstown Shopping Center.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., urges the Federal Emergency Management Agency to work with the city of Johnstown to redraw its outdated flood maps during a news conference Friday at the Johnstown Shopping Center.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer is calling on the Federal Emergency Management Agency to work with the city of Johnstown to correct flood maps he and local officials claim inaccurately place dozens of properties in flood zones, resulting in “onerous” insurance premiums.

Schumer, D-N.Y., spoke Friday afternoon at Johnstown Shopping Center, which falls in the flood zone of the Cayudutta Creek, according to the current maps, forcing owner David Goldstein to pay $50,000 a year for flood insurance.

“In the case of Johnstown, these flood maps are doing more harm than good,” Schumer said. “No family or business should be forced to pay these high flood insurance costs unless they truly are at risk of flooding.”

The maps used now were created by FEMA in 1983 and may overestimate flooding of the Cayudutta Creek by four to six feet, potentially incorrectly placing up to 50 city properties in the flood zone, he said. For the average homeowner, that means paying $600 to $1,500 a month for flood insurance.

“This is a major concern for Johnstown, for homeowners and for business owners,” Johnstown Mayor Michael Julius stated in a news release. “It creates an unnecessary cost and it needs to be rectified.”

Ron Peters, president of the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth, called the flood mapping an economic development issue.

“It hurts with job creation because we have to be competitive on a countywide basis,” he said. “The incorrect maps equate to more costs on the individual business owners, which equates to us being less competitive in attracting businesses. It’s an important issue.”

Not only does the higher insurance cost lead to higher rents in the shopping plaza, Goldstein said, but the flood plain designation means “a lot of lenders, insurance companies, etc., won’t even touch it.”

Goldstein and other business owners hired A.E. Knapp & Associates and C.T. Male Associates to study the floodplain, which resulted in an application to FEMA to reconsider the designation. Alton Knapp of A.E. Knapp said FEMA requested a citywide study, which he and Goldstein felt was beyond their responsibility, though Knapp agrees it needs to be done.

“The city needs a good tool for floodplain management,” he said. “If they don’t have it, they can’t do it.”

The city is working on its own analysis to submit to FEMA, as well, according to Schumer’s office. At Friday’s news conference and in a letter to FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, Schumer called on the agency to work with the city to redraw the maps based on their findings.

“We can’t afford to gloss over inaccuracies and make mistakes that could bring serious consequences to Johnstown residents and business owners,” he said. “What sounds like a technical thing could actually be a big money saver.”

Categories: -News-

Leave a Reply