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New Jersey to Adopt FEMA's Flood Elevation Maps, Christie Says

At a press conference in Seaside Heights, Gov. Chris Christie said the new flood maps will help the Jersey Shore rebuild better and stronger.

New Jersey will adopt the Federal Emergency Management's (FEMA) Advisory Base Flood Elevation maps, clearing the way for residents and business owners along the Jersey Shore to rebuild better and stronger, Gov. Chris Christie announced during a press conference in Seaside Heights Thursday afternoon.

The move comes as residents along the shore wait to find out not if they'll have to raise their homes following Hurricane Sandy, but just how high. 

"If we wait, all we're doing is delaying New Jersey's recovery," Christie said, adding: "I think this is what we need to do to build a 21st century Jersey Shore."

The and recommend that residents in flood zones in 10 counties and 194 communities raise their homes on average between 1 and 5 feet. Based on a scientific analysis of recent and past storms, the flood maps estimate the kind of flooding various zones can expect during a once-a-century storm, like Hurricane Sandy.

It's anticipated that the advisory maps will be adopted by FEMA as its new flood insurance maps. While the new maps - and new insurance rates - won't become official for anywhere between 18 and 24 months, conforming to the standards of the advisory maps is necessary when it comes to rebuilding, Christie said.

By adopting the advisory maps at the state level, Christie said it removes the onus from municipalities still struggling to understand the maps and their ramifications. The move also eliminates the potential for what could have been a patchwork of non-conforming standards throughout the state.

Adoption also makes it easier for property owners to begin to rebuild by removing the need for state Department of Environmental Protection permitting, a step usually required for those looking to elevate their homes.

Christie said the state is adopting the flood maps as is, though he encouraged property owners in affected flood zones to build higher, if possible. Should FEMA determine that its advisory maps are too high in some areas, it will only benefit property owners by having buildings that are safer and more resilient to future storms, Christie said. 

Using an example offered by FEMA, Christie explained the kind of flood insurance premium increases property owners could anticipate if they don't build to, or above, the new flood maps. 

If a property in an A Zone, which is described as a high-hazard zone, is 4 feet below the flood maps, the owner can expect to pay up to $31,000 in insurance a year. If the property is built or elevated to the new standard, that total drops to $7,000. Another two feet above the the recommended height and that total is cut in half. 

FEMA has maintained since introducing the new maps that while they are advisory, they are expected to be very similar to those adopted as the new insurance maps. FEMA officials have stated publicly that while the flood maps could go down in some areas, they will not increase.

By adopting the advisory maps, New Jersey has also made it easier for property owners to receive Increase Cost of Compliance, or ICC, funding. For those with flood insurance, ICC can provide as much as $30,000 to raise a home. Without adopting FEMA's standards, however, that money would not be released.

"I can't wait another 18 to 24 months to rebuild the Jersey Shore," Christie said. "That is an unacceptable alternative to me." 

Karen M February 05, 2013 at 06:24 PM
3rd part of letter from Senetor Menendez: That's why I sent a letter to FEMA urging the agency to review the ABFEs it issued in New Jersey. Specifically, I called on FEMA to allow communities and homeowners who believe they were inaccurately placed in a high flood risk area to challenge such rulings. Homeowners cannot afford to wait until the FEMA releases its final maps that are eligible for appeal. In addition, the federal government can provide financial assistance for those homeowners who concur with the ABFEs and want to elevate their homes. The Sandy Emergency Relief bill allocated $17 billion for Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), which can be used to elevate homes. In order to ensure New Jerseyans would have access to this funding, I sent a letter to Secretary Donovan urging him to make this funding available. Additionally, FEMA's hazard mitigation assistance programs provide direct assistance to local governments and communities to help cover some costs associated with rebuilding to reduce disaster losses. To ask questions and receive more information about flood insurance and the ABFEs, I encourage you to call the National Flood Insurance Program Help Center at 1-800-427-4661 or visit http://www.region2coastal.com/sandy/abfe. Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me.
foggyworld February 27, 2013 at 07:45 PM
And if the barrier islands are going to do the thorough job of installing dunes and maintaining them, it would only seem fair for those dunes to be shown on the fema maps. That way almost all elevations would go down to reasonable levels because on LBI in Brant Beach you can see a duned area and how well it worked versus a nearby area that didn't dune up and how miserable the area looks. Everybody is rushing things and fema's notion of timetables are appalling. March lst is the cut of for a loan application and yet no one at this point knows what their final zone and its requirements will be. It's hard to know just how much to borrow without that critical information which won't be available before or on March lst. They are talking about September but the sand dunes apparently won't be on the map so we will have to overbuild because they aren't going to provide the full picture of what this area will look like in a year. Fema isn't organized within itself and it is wrecking havoc on people who want to the right thing but within reason. The Governor should not have just blindly accepted any maps from Fema and now puts it on homeowners to fight the continuing bad data Fema puts out. Not many town governments are helping the residents who were hit by the storm so it means one house at a time at great expense to the homeowners who are running out of money.
Joe Salleroli June 01, 2013 at 11:32 AM
Just a thought, If all the replies would send mail directly to the Mayor and others in charge at City Hall instead of venting through this link, MAYBE just maybe the amount of mail they receive may be enough to make them sit up and take notice and then get Channel 12 News to make a cover story public of the way Ortley is being used a s tep child of Seaside Heights for strictly monetary reasons. Wahoo, have you tried to get in touch with them? All this is only good for venting purposes and will have no impact on what is being done to Ortley Beach by Town Hall!
proud June 01, 2013 at 11:52 AM
Just out of curiosity @JoeSal, where have you been for be last six months.
Spooner June 01, 2013 at 03:13 PM
Joe- that vaudeville act. . .headlining Obama & Christie, was nothing more than to promote business. It's business that generates taxes and circumspectly puts money into their campaigns. And remember...without money to spend. . . politicians would be useless! Don't have any suggestions for your plight other than to stand behind John McDonough over there. Mr McDonough I think has an opportunity to start a political movement to take on Toms River. Whether he's amendable, that's up to the people over there to show support. . .which I have trepidations about? Another point: there are other ways to look at USACE proposed dunes protection. One being politically... Who chiefly stands to benefit(#): the part time residents on Ortley Beach who can't vote, or the TR mainland voters, who were much more(#) effected by the breach? That's a kind of quagmire...and probably adds to why nothing gets done.

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