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Christie Stands Firm on FEMA Flood Maps

Christie decision to adopt FEMA's advisory flood maps will have a dramatic impact on coastal towns, but he's not backing down.

Gov. Chris Christie is adamant about his decision to adopt the Federal Emergency Management’s (FEMA) advisory flood maps. And while that decision will have a significant, and costly, impact on many of New Jersey’s shore towns, it’s a necessary step to ensure their survival, he said.

Speaking at a mobile cabinet meeting in Union Beach nearly two weeks after announcing his decision to rebuild using the advisory flood maps as a guide, Christie said it was a difficult choice, but one he had to make. Even amidst opposition as shore towns and residents voice their objections to the maps and their expanded flood-prone A and V Zones, Christie’s not backing down.

Whether towns and residents rebuild smarter and higher, or face the risk and high cost of building back to pre-Sandy standards, it’s not going to be cheap. Only one way offers protection from future storms like Sandy, however.

“There’s not any way you’re going to be able to avoid those costs,” he said.

Called Advisory Base Flood Elevations, or ABFEs, the new maps were compiled prior to Sandy using historical storm data and changing topography and will eventually become the National Flood Insurance Program’s official flood elevation maps. Though the ABFEs won’t become official until the middle of 2014, at the earliest, their adoption by the state leaves impacted municipalities with few options moving forward.

Much of the criticism of the new maps focuses on changes to its various zones, specifically its A and V Zones. Both zones, according to FEMA, are prone to significant flood damage during once-a-century storms, like Sandy, with the latter susceptible to wave action. Residents who fail to rebuild their homes higher or elevate their existing properties above base flood levels will soon be subject to extreme flood insurance premiums, in some cases more than $30,000 a year.

But towns and residents in affected areas say the maps, which didn’t factor Sandy’s destruction into the equation, just aren’t accurate. Some homeowners inland with minor flood damage now find themselves in V Zones, while some neighborhoods along the barrier island, one of the most significantly impacted areas, are in A Zones.

Residents who have never seen a drop of water in their basements now find themselves in A Zones, in some cases required to raise their homes but unable to qualify for Increased Cost of Compliance funding because of their lack of flood insurance, insurance they’ve never needed before, or even after Sandy.

Homeowners who did suffer flood damage, but not substantial damage, which means damage that exceeds 50 percent of the property’s market value, are also ineligible for the ICC funding. 

In Point Pleasant Boro, Council President Bob Sabosik called the new maps “a crime.”

Resident Al Faraldi, a professional surveyor who has worked on home elevation projects throughout the state, said Christie acted too soon in adopting the flood maps, responding to the scare tactics put forth by FEMA. He said the maps are simply wrong, with inaccurate figures and misinterpreted data.

Christie believes the maps could change: “If you’re in a V Zone it could turn out that you’ll be in an A Zone,” he said, but that opinion isn’t widely shared. FEMA officials, in interviews and public forums, have said it’s unlikely that any significant changes will be made, though they have said flood zone increases are almost assuredly out.

A few modifications, maybe, but when it comes to their flood maps, those who have gotten the bad news about their zone shouldn’t expect a turnaround any time soon.     

Of course, along with the recent adoption of the $50.7 billion Hurricane Sandy relief package, grant sources will be funded to assist in restoration projects like home elevation. Christie has touted Community Development Block Grants and Hazard Mitigation Grants as ways to defray the cost of elevating a house. The grants are competitive, however, and there are no guarantees.

The issue of grant funding was addressed by Brick Mayor Stephen Acropolis in a previous Patch report.

"If it's a primary residence, the CDBG money will come out and that will be able to help them," he said. "But they're not going to give everybody in Brick $50,000.”

For Christie, the only acceptable solution he’s been presented with is building stronger and more resilient, which means building higher. He said he made the decision to adopt the flood maps to help speed the process of recovery, one that would have stagnated had he waited until the advisory maps became official.

Higher means less susceptible to flood damage, which means buildings survive and shore towns remain intact in the future. Higher means the shore can continue to serve as home to some and a vacation destination to others, a prospect that’s in doubt should towns and residents fail to follow ABFE guidelines.

“I’m not going to be the governor that sees the shore abandoned under my watch,” he said. 

proud February 08, 2013 at 12:30 AM
@foggyworld, I helped out a neighbor by letting the insurance adjusters in while they could not be there, I witnessed the adjusters fill out the forms that included the serial number and model numbers you referred to. They were snapping pictures with their phones of everything. Your neighbor had bad adjusters and that the insurance company knows this and allows it is horrific. It just gets worse and worse , a new nightmare story every day.
Sam February 08, 2013 at 12:34 AM
Karen M. I understand that the remapping is a major problem. But don't exclude. My zone has not changed and I have still lost all equity because I am below BFE! No one will buy with the proposed insurance rates. We need to fight both the maps and flood insurance rates! Power in numbers!! If I knew how to create a web site I would. Right now we have the patch and " stopFEMAnow" on facebook. Are there any other sites we should be watching?
Karen Bolden February 08, 2013 at 12:35 AM
Chief.........you are so right. The silence though speaks volumes.....NO ONE CARES but they go one here and complain and bitch but in the end no one does anything about it. They vote in the same idiots, they accept the same BS, they wont speak up because maybe someone won't like them......on and on
foggyworld February 08, 2013 at 12:46 AM
George, I need your help. I went to the Announcement of Upcoming Things where the Patch would give us free exposure about your meeting idea for this Saturday. I typed it all up and hit a problem in that I don't want to use my own email address and I don't have access to a phone. I wrote the copy up and would be glad to send it to you or anyone who could respond to inquiries. The meeting really ought to be advertised in as many nearby Patch outlets as possible and I sure hope the restaurant knows what may be coming. I'll look for an answer here. Many thanks.
mamaski03 February 08, 2013 at 12:58 AM
AGAIN<Whether or not you received "substaincial damage" depends on the estimate your contractor gives to the C.O. dept. in your community. If your contractors estimate to repair your home is over 50 % of the total value of your home (excluding property) then your community is the one who will not issue you your permits to repair, your community will require you to raise. If your contractors estimate he gives the city is under 50% of the total value of your home, then u are not substancially damaged,do not have to raise your foundation per The National Flood Insurance Program., can repair and are still considered Pre-Firm construction as far as your premiums go. Again, the catch is that if you do not raise your structure, even if your not mandated to by your community, when you sell your home, the new owners will have to raise it themselves in order not to pay high premiums.So, unless you plan on not selling your home, and, if your contractors estimate is under 50% damage, you don't have to raise, and will not be subjected to the scare of excedingly high ins. rates.
proud February 08, 2013 at 01:18 AM
Biggert -Waters put the kabosh on pre-firm and post-firm. In essence, these properties have been ungrandfathered. Stupid? Yes. Is it happening? Yes.
Floodgate February 08, 2013 at 01:52 AM
http://chrissmith.house.gov/. < here's one who voted yes on the biggerts waters act ,now click on his page ,kinda ironic
Martin February 08, 2013 at 02:06 AM
http://patch.com/E-ttDh Big FEMA protest rally Sat. 2/9/13 from 3-4 pm on Fischer Blvd. in Toms River, for everyone who's mad about the crazy home-elevation requirements and the exorbitant annual flood insurance premiums to come soon. Be there. Don't just complain. Let's take action. Make ouir voices heard in Trenton and Washington!
Floodgate February 08, 2013 at 02:14 AM
http://waters.house.gov/contact/. http://www.opencongress.org/people/show/400027. Here are the two contacts for Judy biggert and Maxine waters
Floodgate February 08, 2013 at 02:20 AM
"The federal flood insurance program shares several characteristics with the Medicare and ObamaCare programs that provide health insurance. Like Medicare, the federal flood insurance law was originally enacted under President Lyndon Johnson. And as is eventually predicted for Medicare, “current premiums are not enough to cover expected costs,” and the flood insurance program wound up costing $18 billion."http://www.nysun.com/national/obama-congress-quietly-borrowed-money-from-china/88053/
Karen M February 08, 2013 at 03:00 AM
For those of you who are talking about SBA loans please be aware you will not qualify for one unless your home is rented out. Thats the little kicker that FEMA fails to tell you about. I found this out from the FEMA representative at Home Depot. It is a fact.
ortleysmellslikebunker February 08, 2013 at 03:08 AM
@Michele blamble there is no toms river inlet.and bay waves do not break, they are white caps
ortleysmellslikebunker February 08, 2013 at 03:22 AM
The barrier island was cool when the sand piper,krones,etc. And before.that place is beat now
Karen M February 08, 2013 at 03:27 AM
@sam it wasn't intentional to exclude those whose flood zone has not changed,but the majority of the complaints that I am hearing are from people who have gone from an A to a V zone. I just want to fight the complete craziness of the zoning changes. No matter which way you look at it, they are just completely wrong. I don't think there are anymore sites as far as I know.
Gsieri Builders February 08, 2013 at 03:53 AM
What I can say is if your having problems with your adjuster go to visit FEMA at the library in Ocean City and speak with an agent they have a # for a hotline that puts pressure on your insurance company.
SonOfLiberty February 08, 2013 at 11:45 AM
FEMA is what a single-payer insurance system looks like. Just wait until healthcare is the same kind of a system because that is the path we are on.
proud February 08, 2013 at 03:33 PM
@ Karen M and others, there is a very interesting article in Toms River Patdh, that addresses rapport with FEMA over A to V changes,(as well as other issues). If anyone has a ABFE problem, this is worth a Google: :["News for Councilman: FEMA Has Become 'A ... Councilman: FEMA Has Become 'A Household Word' Patch.com ‎- 3 hours ago A letter to the editor submitted by Councilman John Sevastakis. ... That agency is FEMA, whose name has become a household word for many ...']
ortleysmellslikebunker February 08, 2013 at 03:52 PM
Where is the Toms river inlet,i want to fish there.maybe drink some beers with av
Karen M February 08, 2013 at 04:44 PM
Yeah, and it seems that he's really pissed off his many constituents.
Barney Gatbay February 09, 2013 at 12:18 PM
hey bunker when you find that inlet let me know where it is so i can fish there to except ill bring vodka. av likes shots and beer just aint cuttin it. maybe the toms river inlet is th surf club after last night. ive caught some nice bunker there before
Project Bluebeam February 09, 2013 at 12:30 PM
Just wit to you file your taxes in 2014! If you don't have a health insurance ID card, you get a $300 fine. Back on topic...this whole FEMA map thing is nothing but UN Agenda 21 at work. Read or re-read Orwell's 1984...this is what they are aiming for!
Martin February 09, 2013 at 12:38 PM
"Stop FEMA Now" rally TODAY! It's being called a grassroots uprising... Meet 'n' greet Saturday 2/9/12, 3-4 pm Belly Busters Restaurant, 708 Fischer Blvd, Toms River NJ 08753 Disgruntled Jersey Shore property owners will strategize how to rectify FEMA overkill in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. They say the government has made rebuilding extremely hard and prohibitively expensive for thousands of flooded residents. "Flawed maps, ridiculously high elevation mandates and exorbitant annual insurance premiums will BANKRUPT the Shore and make it a ghost town - except for the wealthy" "How about a class-action lawsuit? Petitions to White House, federal and/or state legislators? Letter-writing and email campaigns to news media? Rallies on steps of Statehouse and Congress? How about mass property tax appeals, because our homes are worth less than half of pre-flood values? "Our 2 US Senators and state legislators are starting to notice our outrage and helplessness against FEMA, the insurance companies and do-nothing bureaucrats and politicians. Let's build on that momentum, and get results to really save the Shore from this 'disaster after the disaster.' "United we stand, divided we drown in debt." Visit Facebook.com/StopFemaNow
piney from Forked River February 09, 2013 at 01:00 PM
medicare ring a bell? What time is Mitt showing up?
PJ Ortley February 10, 2013 at 04:50 AM
@foggy, I would like to be in contact about an ongoing effort in Ortley Beach. You might be able to help. Please contact me on Facebook.
SBendt February 19, 2013 at 04:14 AM
SB i feel for all of you but these new FEMA flood plain regulations are hitting everyone around the whole country. I live in Michigan and not even in a flood zone and just the other day received a letter saying that I am now. The government is going to force more and more people out of their homes with these over priced flood insurance rates. FEMA is making us all bend over and take it up the a##. Where does it all end?
DDJA March 18, 2013 at 12:14 PM
I can't understand HOW the governor would expect people to enforce V zones or A zones for people who have NEVER had any real damage to their homes. To make people pay upwards of $100K is CRIMINAL!!! The shore will only be for the wealthy.....thank you Governor. We pray these zones are remedied.
DDJA March 18, 2013 at 12:37 PM
Not only will so many people leave the shore, you will have part timers buying up these homes. Either they will use these homes as weekend/homes, or they will rent to just anyone. So, with part timers, you won't have spending down the shore as you have now (which WILL affect businesses)....AND/OR....they will turn full time neighborhoods into year round rentals....there goes the neighborhood because most renters don't care about the home or the neighborhood.
DDJA March 18, 2013 at 12:44 PM
CR.....cold and heartless. I wonder if you would reply like that if it were you mother or brother. ....than again, based on your response to knarfie, you probably wouldn't give a damn. This is impacting people's lives. We're talk about people who had NO real damage to their homes and who are NOT on the barrier island.
George Kasimos March 18, 2013 at 01:04 PM
The way I see it we have two choices. Take it on the chin or fight back. Our several thousand members are fighting back. Join us. www.facebook.com/StopFemaNow www.StopFemaNow.com www.youtube.com/StopFemaNow twitter #StopFemaNow
Sal Sorce March 18, 2013 at 02:51 PM
When we built our summer home in Surf City, it was a result of doing a comprehensive study on what to build ... a raised ranch at 9 feet above grade on huge set of pilings on North 2nd street, we did not have any damage, a very minor amount of water in the ground level garage ... cleaned up in about an hour ... what folks must understand, many if not all townships have been bought and operated by the Ocean County political machine, many homes that were destroyed were the direct result of approvals by land use and planning boards, many were merely a few concrete blocks off grade ... now so many are (after the fact) required to raise their homes at considerable cost ... Len Connors is the best mayor in Ocean County, with a record of keeping our taxes sensible and fair ... compare that with Stafford where I have a second home ... fear the threat of $$$$$$$ increases to fix homes that were allowed to be constructed in a compromised area ... storm water management and systems are 40-50 years old ... what kind of incremental work was done under the management of THE BLOCK TEAM ... WELCOME BACK TO A CLONE ... Heard a raid on increasing taxes on Warren Grove ... at a lowering of home values ... the gimmick allowed by a corrrupted government??? Sounds like a third world system or Liberals run a muck ???

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