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Gillibrand fights to keep flood insurance bills from skyrocketing

Ellen Abbott

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has joined the fight to keep flood insurance bills from skyrocketing in one of Syracuse's poorest neighborhoods. The idea is to convince the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, that their latest maps are flawed.

In Armory Square, city officials explained to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand the ways to mitigate the potential for flooding along Onondaga Creek.

Gillibrand wants to help the city challenge new flood maps proposed by FEMA that would raise flood insurance rates for more than a 1,000 homeowners in a poor neighborhood on Syracuse's south side. Gillibrand says the way to do that is to have the most accurate maps possible.

"We're just trying to have some common sense be applied to this community so we can make sure people don't needlessly have to pay more money for insurance," Gillibrand said. She also doesn't want flood insurance to be required when taking out a mortgage.

The city of Syracuse has until Monday to challenge the new maps and Gillibrand is hoping to convince FEMA to give them more time. Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner says city engineers are working on it.

"We're looking at every single line to make sure that we have an accurate assessment as to what this flood map really is," Miner said.

The city is also looking at some ways to increase the water flow along Onondaga Creek that would ultimately prevent flooding, like removing old railroad bridges and some of the sediment at the bottom of the creek.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.