At a community press briefing, Congressional Representative Hakeem Jeffries expressed concern that FEMA was treating disaster-stricken areas in New York as generic disaster zones, inconsiderate of New York’s unique circumstances, according to a report by the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
After Superstorm Sandy devastated much of Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island late last October, FEMA distributed guidelines designed to prepare New Yorkers for future storms. According to Jeffries, many of these guidelines simply aren’t logical considering the reality of New York’s layout and community design. Jeffries argued that when it comes to legislating and preparing for future storms, that there would be a need for “New York solutions to New York problems.”
According to Jeffries, FEMA has recommended that homeowners in vulnerable areas elevate the foundations of their homes. This recommendation makes sense for houses located in areas where there is wide space between homes, but not for Brooklyn, where houses are crammed together. Jeffries argues that the foundation of one house cannot be altered without affecting the foundation of the houses next to it.
FEMA also recommended that homeowners in flood zones keep their basements unoccupied. Jeffries also slammed this recommendation as impractical.
“In New York, many homeowners either have relatives living in the basement, or rent out basement apartments so they can have more money to pay the mortgage,” the Daily Eagle reported Jeffries saying.
Instead of placing the burden entirely on homeowners to create costly protections for their homes, Jeffries called for new offshore barriers to prevent the flooding of beachfront lands. He also recommended that barriers be erected between separate bodies of water to limit the power of storm surges.