Governor Chris Christie announced that the State has adopted the Advisory Base Flood Elevation (ABFE) Maps as issued by FEMA, effective immediately. The maps establish new standards for rebuilding along the Jersey shore.
FEMA is still finalizing the Base Flood Elevation maps, but the process could take up to two years. Christie said that New Jersey shouldn’t delay rebuilding for that long. “I can’t wait another 18 to 24 months to rebuild the Jersey Shore,” he said. “That is unacceptable to me… residents and businesses can’t afford to lose a summer.”
In Toms River, the new maps will require property owners on the barrier island and some areas of the mainland, such as Silverton, to either raise their home or see significant increases in flood insurance rates. Mayor Tom Kelaher said, “The Governor’s action assures us that our residents will remain eligible for FEMA funding, but in our Township, we have over 10,000 homes with damage and about half of those homes would need to be raised. This will change the look of our shoreline considerably and the cost is unimaginable. Our Township Engineer sees extensive flaws in the mapping, especially where it relates to the Velocity zone on the mainland, and not planning high enough on the barrier island. ”
On Tuesday January 22, 2013, Mayor Kelaher met with Marc Ferzan, Governor Christie’s Sandy Recovery Coordinator, to discuss ongoing concerns the Township has with respect to the FEMA Maps. The next day, Kelaher met with FEMA officials to go over the maps in detail.
Based on the Township’s serious concerns, the FEMA representatives committed to take a detailed look at the Velocity Zone designation on the mainland and advised that the Velocity Zone may in fact be reduced when the next round of maps are released, based on further engineering modeling and analysis, but could not commit to that at this time.
In his speech today, the Governor mentioned that there are Homeowner Assistance Plans available to residents, and warns that those who don’t rebuild according to the new flood map standards could see greatly higher insurance costs, maybe up to four times as much as before.
Christie mentioned that NJ will be receiving billions of dollars to mitigate these costs, but seemed aware that this may still not cover all costs for homeowners.
The rebuilding process:
- If your dwelling was damaged by more than 51%, you will not get a building permit unless you rebuild to the higher standards and raise your home.
- If your dwelling was less than 50% damaged, and you don’t make any changes, you will have significantly higher flood insurance, which could increase to as high as $31,000.
- Residents who choose to rebuild two feet above the new flood zone would be looking at around $3,500 for the cost of flood insurance.
Christie said the new FEMA rules, “Protects the public and our residents by ensuring the Jersey Shore and our coastal communities will be reconstructed smarter and more resilient.”
By building to the FEMA standards, New Jersey homeowners will see substantially reduced rates for flood insurance, according to the governor.
Council President George Wittmann commented that the Governor’s adoption of the FEMA maps may, “Impact design plans that are currently underway. We don’t want our residents to spend money for plans that will not be accepted.”
On Tuesday night, January 22nd, the township council passed a resolution in opposition of the FEMA maps that were adopted by the governor this afternoon. The council believes that there were significant errors with the placement of homes in the V flood zone despite any evidence to support this from FEMA.