Congressman Bill Pascrell

Representing the 9th District of NEW JERSEY

Rep. Pascrell Joins Paterson Residents to Urge FEMA to Revise Flood Map

Jan 29, 2016
Press Release

PATERSON, NJ – FEMA has agreed to review certain areas that do not flood historically. [January 22, 2016]

U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) stood with Paterson residents and local officials today to announce progress for Paterson residents who have erroneously been placed in flood zones by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Pascrell had intervened on behalf of residents and officials to assist with the map revisions process.

"Flood maps are a critical tool in how our emergency managers prepare and respond to disaster situations," Rep. Pascrell said. "We all know too well how the mighty Passaic River can spill over its banks and cause mass devastation. This is one of the reasons why it is imperative that we get these maps right."

The City of Paterson has formally requested that FEMA review and revise the flood maps for Paterson, and Rep. Pascrell has submitted a letter in support (see attached). Pascrell spoke at the home of Mabel Richardson, whose house is in a large area that is expected to be re-designated.

"Mabel and all of the other residents here today are needlessly being required to pay for flood insurance, which could cost as much as $3,500 per year," Pascrell said. "We have residents here who have lived in neighborhoods for over 30 years without flooding issues. In some cases, they are at least a mile away from the nearest waterway."

After several meetings and calls with FEMA’s Mitigation team, they informed Rep. Pascrell that these maps were drawn decades ago and there is no data to support these areas being included in the flood maps.

“FEMA is in the process of updating its flood maps. They must use up-to-date and correct data when determining which properties are and are not in a flood zone,” said Pascrell. “Accurate maps are essential to communicating flood hazards to those at risk, setting appropriate insurance rates, and regulating development in flood-prone areas.”

"Formal approval of these changes from FEMA will be answered in the next 30 days, but there is much confidence in a positive outcome," Pascrell said. "Once FEMA determines how many homeowners are affected, those homeowners will be contacted about how to proceed. The process of creating the new map is expected to take approximately a year. "

When FEMA compiled a report detailing all flood insurance claims that have been filed for Paterson since 1978 and compared the list with the city’s flood maps, they confirmed that there were at least four areas that should not be considered flood zones.

"I want to thank Mayor Torres and the other local officials for responding to this issue so quickly against a looming deadline and mobilizing to help get this done," Pascrell said. "It's important to note that even once these maps become finalized and homeowners are no longer required to buy flood insurance that it is still recommended for homeowners to purchase at least some flood insurance coverage to mitigate against any risk they may have."