Where's the water? Locals challenge flood maps

Monday afternoon update:

CNY Central TMs Jim Kenyon has learned that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has decided to redraw flood plain maps that would have required more than 2,400 property owners in Syracuse and Onondaga County to buy expensive flood insurance.

FEMA TMs Senior Engineer, Paul Weberg told Kenyon by phone from his office in New York City, that the maps will be revised. Weberg was not specific about which areas may be excluded from the new flood plain designation, but he said the maps will be out soon. It could be a week, it could be a month. he said.

Weberg said FEMA is working with C&S Engineers and giving Syracuse the benefit of the doubt on anything technically that is sound.

It appears Syracuse city officials have succeeded in appealing the new flood plain designations. City Hall hired C&S Engineers to come up with proof that the maps were inaccurate, especially on Syracuse TMs southwest side along Onondaga Creek. The city claims the creek hasn TMt overflowed its banks because it was engineered years ago to withstand a hundred year flood. The FEMA flood plain designation would have also affected a number of businesses in Armory Square.

On Monday, members of Syracuse United Neighbors joined with city officials to call upon FEMA to redraw the maps. SUN claims that flood insurance could force homeowners to shell out up to $1,500 a year.

You will have residents that will have to move out of our neighborhood because they can TMt afford flood insurance. said Mercedes Bloodworth, who is organizing Syracuse residents on behalf of SUN.

Original story from Monday morning:

After a record breaking winter and spring, a citizens advocacy group is joining with Syracuse and Onondaga County officials to ask "where's the water?"

Syracuse United Neighbors held a news conference Monday to challenge FEMA's decision to redraw flood plain maps two years ago. Those maps are undergoing a review based on challenges from local municipalities that they don't accurately represent true flood plains. The proposed maps would add thousands of homes and businesses in Syracuse and Onondaga County to the flood plain. Such a designation would require property owners to purchase flood insurance which in some cases could be very expensive.

SUN points out that despite a large amount of snow this winter, one of the rainiest Aprils on record, and the April 26th rainstorm which dumped 8.53 inches of rain in less than an hour (according to their news release), the southwest side of Syracuse did not experience any flooding. SUN and city and county officials hope to use this year's experience to demonstrate that the flood plain maps need to be redrawn.

CNY Central Meteorologist Peter Hall reports that 1.83 inches of rain fell on Syracuse on April 26, far less than the SUN literature states.

Ironically, last week FEMA officials toured certain areas of Syracuse and Onondaga County to inspect recent flood damage. New York State hopes FEMA will make a disaster declaration so the state can qualify for federal flood assistance.