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Pol Urges Those Rebuilding in Flood Zones to Fill Basements with Concrete

By Janet Upadhye | March 26, 2013 8:36am

BROOKLYN — Property owners in DUMBO, Red Hook, Gowanus and Sunset Park might need to start thinking more concretely about rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy.

State Sen. Velmanette Montgomery is urging homeowners to consider filling their basements with concrete in order to rise above new flood lines.

FEMA is currently updating the nation’s 25-year-old flood maps and flood elevation levels will be significantly higher on the new maps.

Those levels directly affect National Flood Insurance rates and the sweetest deals go to owners whose buildings are three feet above the flood line.

Some new flood levels in Red Hook and other Brooklyn waterfront communities are 13-feet-high, making building up on pillars nearly impossible.

So concrete might help. And the senator is on a mission to let homeowners know as they rebuild after Hurricane Sandy.

“We cannot let people get stung,” said Montgomery spokesman, Jim Vogel. “People are already rebuilding their basements and that could be a huge problem.”

Filling a basement with concrete could prove to be a costly affair. Senior Estimator at Holt Construction, Harry Phillips, guesses that it would cost approximately $50,000 to fill a 8-feet-tall, 1,500 square-foot basement with a concrete mixture that includes gravel.

But it could save homeowners $90,000 over ten years.

National flood Insurance premiums will be based on how homeowners respond to FEMA's new flood levels. Premiums for homes elevated three feet above the flood line will cost $427/year while those four feet below will cost $9,500/year, according to FEMA.

Filling a basement with concrete also gives buildings a stronger base.

“A concrete-filled base could actually save a building during a flood,” said Vogel.

And for lost space, New York City is relaxing its zoning laws and allowing those affected by Sandy to build up.

To find out more about FEMA’s new flood line elevations visit their website.