FEMA Mitigation Best Practices: Raising Hope While Lowering Costs   [open pdf - 41KB]

"Tom Paino is an architect with a New York City agency. He is also the owner of two side-by-side brownstones in the Queens neighborhood of Long Island City. Built in 1903, the three-story brownstones are located two blocks from the East River in the middle of a densely populated residential neighborhood. Paino has lived in one of the brownstones since purchasing it in 1995. The other unit was purchased in 2010 and has remained unoccupied, as the previous tenants left the unit in extremely poor condition. To make the unit livable, Paino knew it would require a significant refurbishment. Approximately five years ago, however, the flood hazard maps for the area were revised by the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and Paino's neighborhood was then determined to be located within the regulatory floodplain. With the revision of the maps, the lowest floor of the brownstone sat two feet below the Base Flood Elevation (BFE), which is determined to be the calculated height to which potential floodwaters could rise. […] NFIP regulations require that when a structure in the floodplain is either damaged or renovated with a cost of 50 percent or more of its fair market value, that structure must be brought into compliance with local floodplain management ordinances. This meant that because of the new mapping, to undergo any substantial renovation, Paino would have to cease using the lowest floor for anything other than parking or storage, or find a way to elevate the structure."

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