The Federal Emergency Management Agency's proposed flood maps, which will significantly affect rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy, "appear to be overly conservative," Toms River Township Engineer Robert J. Chankalian said in a letter to the agency.
Chankalian said that Hurricane Sandy was an "anomaly" and the base flood elevations, which are the standards used to build or significantly renovate homes, should be set lower than the October storm's high-water mark. These maps also have a bearing on flood insurance rates as well.
However, the advisory base flood elevations (ABFE) are three feet higher than Hurricane Sandy's high water mark in some areas, Chankalian said in the letter, which was posted on Toms River Township's Website.
The proposed map expands "V Zones" where homes are more likely to be damaged by waves, while some portions of Ortley Beach that were damaged by waves during Hurricane Sandy were placed in a lower risk region ("A zone"), Chankalian said.
"It is hard to explain why inland lagoon areas are in high elevation and wave “V” zones, and the barrier island is set at a lesser “AE” standard. Further, people are already questioning, if my house made it through Sandy, why is the new ABFE more stringent?" Chankalian wrote. "I think it goes without saying that we need to be as accurate as possible since the financial impact to the residents in terms of flood insurance costs, resale value and reconstruction/construction costs are significant."
Chankalian requested a meeting with FEMA officials to revise some of the data before the final maps are approved.