By Sue Ellen Woodcock
The city council is expected to vote on the FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) flood plain maps during its upcoming meeting on Monday.
FEMA revised its flood maps, something it does every five years, and following the Katrina disaster down south in 2005.
The Revere City Council held a public hearing on the matter Monday night. Tuesday night the Planning Board also held a meeting about the maps.
According to Mayor Brian Arrigo, the revised flood maps have to be approved by March 16 or the city will be suspended from the flood insurance program.
Washington Street resident Ralph Decicco told the council he was not happy with the maps. He noted that floodgates and other details are not on the map.
“A lot of residents don’t need flood insurance,” Decicco said. In addition the maps still list the MDC (Metropolitan District Commission) as an entity. “I went from a five foot elevation to 14 feet and now I need flood insurance. I missed it by three tenths of an inch. It shouldn’t be a blanket thing. It should be done on an individual basis.”
“We’re under a consent decree,” Decicco added. “How much can Revere take?”
The cost of obtaining flood insurance runs from $2,000 to $4,000.
Councillor Ira Novoselsky said FEMA used West Coast standards to draw East Coast maps.
“We have to approve it or a lot of people will be hurt,” Novoselsky said.
Councillor John Powers, who represents the Point of Pines area, said there are some people in the neighborhood who will never flood, but because the maps don’t address properties individually “people are forced to buy flood insurance.”
“It’s another unfunded mandate,” said Councillor George Rotundo.
Joan Pennacchio, of Bennington Street, has lived there since 1989 and she has paid for flood insurance but she cannot afford it. She’s not alone, said Councillor Anthony Zambuto, it’s a problem for seniors who may not have a mortgage.
“Yes, the rates are frustrating but it is beyond us, it’s FEMA,” said Council President Jessica Gianinno. “A number of residents filed to get their property removed from the flood plain.”
“It’s unfair,” said Councillor Arthur Guinasso. “They (FEMA) are using this to pay for Katrina and other disasters.
Councillor Robert Haas Jr. reminded people that 60 percent of the city is at or below sea level.
“This is a federal issue,” Haas said. “People’s income is being eroded.”
More information about the revised flood maps can be found at www.fema.gov