On January 9, 2014, the Eastwick Friends & Neighbors Coalition (EFNC) hosted a Public Community Meeting featuring Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) representatives and flood information. More than 150 people attended, reflecting strong interest in flooding and flood insurance issues, and the need for answers.
EFNC engaged representatives from FEMA Region III, headquartered in Philadelphia, to provide information about flooding and answer questions during the meeting. FEMA speakers were Regional Administrator MaryAnn Tierney, and FEMA Insurance Specialist, Richard Sobota.
During the meeting, MaryAnn Tierney briefly outlined FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps (known as FIRM’s), which delineate special hazard areas and risk zones within a community. She advised that current FEMA Flood Maps are based on old data from the 1970′s, and that new FIRM’s would be released imminently for the Philadelphia region. The public has opportunity to review and comment on maps before they would be officially adopted by FEMA.
Richard Sobota presented information about the FEMA Flood Insurance program and insurance rate settings, which are complex. He referenced the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, a congressional law that mandates significant reforms in the National Flood Insurance Program. Details on the Biggert-Waters Act can be found on the FloodSmart.gov website.
Mr. Sobota fielded wide-ranging questions from the audience, attempting to clarify confusion about disparities in rates and requirements. Many residents questioned why one homeowner needed flood insurance, while another was not required to have it, and why premium rates would vary so widely between two homes located on the same block.
There remains ample confusion and questions about flood insurance and the varied insurance premiums and conditions for Eastwick residents. There was not time to address all issues or questions; Richard Sobota distributed forms for people to fill-out and send to him, and he would respond to individual queries.
Click here for a copy of the FEMA Insurance Specialist Contact Form. Use this to send questions to FEMA about flood insurance. Complete the form and email directly to Richard Sobota at: Richard.Sobota@dhs.gov, or mail to:
615 Chestnut Street
One Independence Mall, 6th floor
Philadelphia, PA 19106
The Eastwick Friends & Neighbors Coalition (EFNC) remains committed to identifying and fostering sustainable solutions to confront the environmental challenges impacting Eastwick, to improve the community’s quality of life and resiliency, and to plan for the future. We are dedicated to informing, educating and empowering community residents and stakeholders to make the best decisions possible. EFNC is following-up with FEMA representatives, and identifying next steps in the process of addressing community concerns about flooding and flood insurance.
EFNC thanks FEMA representatives MaryAnn Tierney and Richard Sobota for their time in speaking to the Eastwick community about this important topic, especially in light of the disaster in West Virginia that also occurred on January 9. We appreciate FEMA’s attention during that pressing time, and look forward to future interactions.