STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. - Jean Laurie isn’t taking any more chances.
Nearly a year after Superstorm Sandy swept through her close-knit neighborhood, destroying 22 houses and killing two of her neighbors, she’s finally getting ready to rebuild the home where she lived for years with her husband and their rescue dog.
The Lauries got about $30,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to rebuild their waterlogged home. But they decided to knock it down and build a new one, rather than try to repair what looked unfixable.
But that rebuilding comes with a catch. New flood maps drawn up by FEMA, along with reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) enacted in 2012, meant that many residents, including the Lauries, must lift up their homes or face dramatically higher flood insurance rates.
So the Lauries hoisted their house 13 feet off the ground, so they never have to worry about flooding — or the skyrocketing insurance rates — again.
Few homes on Staten Island — one of the few places in New York City where middle-class people can afford a small yard and white picket fence — are elevated now, and it’s hard and even a little funny to imagine some of the island’s tiny bungalows propped up on stilts or pilings.
The new flood insurance rules, which went into effect on Oct. 1, are intended to make the deeply indebted NFIP solvent by no longer charging government-subsidized rates on homes in flood-prone areas. The hikes will affect about 20 percent of the 5.5 million people who have NFIP policies around the country, as well as thousands more who live in areas that didn’t used to be considered flood-prone but who now must buy insurance under the new FEMA map.
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Spencer Platt