Mary D'Alessandro-Gilmore and her husband bought their home in Schenectady's Stockade District only five years before Tropical Storm Irene flooded the historic neighborhood.
"We got a call to say it is going to flood so we tried to get back and we could not," D'Alessandro-Gilmore said. "The house looked like a houseboat because it was up to the third step of the porch and it was quite devastating because we could not get here and we did not know to what extent."
At the time, the couple's home was considered outside the floodplain, so they did not have flood insurance. When the floodplain was later extended, they were added in and required to purchase the protection through the federal government's program.
"It’s an enormous amount of money,” D'Alessandro-Gilmore said. “It started out in the low fours and recently it is just up to about $5,000. The banks require it too, so you need to have it."
"The federal government does flood insurance because the only way you can get private flood insurance, the cost is so exorbitant," Senator Charles Schumer said.
Standing in front of D'Allassandro-Gilmore's home, Schumer was in the neighborhood Friday urging Congress and the White House to extend the program — which is set to expire at the end of the month.
"This has bipartisan support,” Schumer said. “The real opposition is the [Trump] administration, more than Democrats or Republicans in Congress and the Senate.”
If the program is discontinued, Schumer says the flood insurance would be privatized, potentially doubling the already high cost.
“It makes harder for average folks who live here to make ends meet,” Schumer said.
Schumer is also calling for reforms to the program that include reviewing the rate structure and capping price increases; all changes D'Alessandro-Gilmore believes will help her neighbors continue to afford their homes.
“This is our home,” D'Alessandro-Gilmore said. “It would be very difficult to leave it, and hopefully we would not have to, but it certainly would be a financial burden, a tremendous financial burden.”