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Flood Maps Causing Headaches for Sandy-Stricken Residents

Township does not believe federal flood maps are accurate

Margaret Quinn's family lost their home when Hurricane Sandy flooded Silverton. 

"We lost our house. We lost everything," she told the Township Council last week as she pleaded for answers on how to rebuild.

The FEMA flood elevations maps released weeks ago are flawed, the township has said, making it difficult for residents who have suffered severe home damage to make plans to rebuild. Following the current map guidelines could wind up costing homeowners money if they rebuild and revisions are made to the finalized maps released in August. 

"I cry everyday," Quinn said. "There's nothing there and there's nothing we can do about it."

Fellow Silverton resident Stacy Buono faces the same issue. 

"We're all at the point where it's time to move forward and rebuild and we're not sure what we can and can't do," she said.

Toms River Township Engineer Robert Chankalian said in a December letter to FEMA that the maps "appear to be overly conservative."

Chankalian said that 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 have a bearing on flood insurance rates.

However, the advisory base flood elevations (ABFE) are three feet higher than 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 Sandy were placed in the lower risk "A" zone region, 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 said in the letter. "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."

Adopting the maps as-is would be "an immediate hardship to everybody, especially on the mainland," township Business Administrator Paul Shives said at the council's reorganization meeting last week. He said that FEMA had to "rush to judgement" to get the maps out quickly following the storm. 

"We don't believe the maps are correct. We believe the 'V' zone may be misplaced," he said. 

"Elected officials up and down the coast are incensed by the maps. It's not unique to Toms River or Ocean County, Monmouth County. All of the shore towns are up in arms," Shives said.

The engineer has written to FEMA and requested that the agency revise the maps in the interim, before the August release of the finalized maps, but he has yet to receive a response. 

"People want to build their house now," Chankalian said. "They don't want to wait until August. At the same time, this is so conservative that it causes other hardships."

Council members pledged that they will appeal to elected officials for help.

"We need to push FEMA to get answers on this quickly," said Councilman Mo Hill. "I agree that we can't wait until August."

"We'll go to our senators and representatives to get them to put pressure on the federal government to resolve this," Hill said. 

Council President George Wittmann said that residents who want to rebuild now, despite the questionable mapping, could proceed while adhering to the most stringent standards.

"The best advice is to go for the 'V' zone," he said. 

Tina January 07, 2013 at 03:14 PM
I have a friend who lives in Silverton, half of the house is gone and they lost 3 vehicles.
Patty January 07, 2013 at 04:34 PM
Richard is right you can't make this stuff up! We haven't lived in our home since Oct. 28th and Toms River has done nothing to get us back. But have no fear your tax bill will be due and payable! Government at it's worse!
charlie January 07, 2013 at 04:34 PM
This is the 1 - 2 punch from FEMA. First you get nothing (second homes and rentals) then they say you now must pay flood insurance going forward.
Chief Wahoo January 07, 2013 at 04:48 PM
hmmmm, i know a smart guy on here , who tried warning about this 2 months ago !!! These clowns all around Town and county , will not, cannot and do not know how to help you !!!!!! Stop believing them.......WAKE UP PEOPLE !!!!
1stcav January 07, 2013 at 04:59 PM
This IS uncharted territory for most at the shore, but these FEMA people should know/direct us ( Local Gov'mt ) on what to do for the PEOPLE....Why are NO standards being adhered too...This isn't their first dance..We need guidance as to what, how, we should now go forward on re-building our communities ,so next time there won't be such devastation..This WAS the storm of the century for sure , but the forwarding was greater than anticipated by all.....OEM & 1 st responder"s had there hands full and could do only so much.The system was over loaded , and higher trucks are needed for high water rescue in these shore towns !!, Small rescue crafts with low drafts and proper lighting were needed all over....Lets be prepared next time around..Now we re-build hope all can do this in 2013..good thoughts to all & pray a lot ! Thanks to all for your help on those needing that help !
Michelle Blamble January 07, 2013 at 06:31 PM
Shore Friend - just from my wanderings around Ortley I'd say your percentages are way off. Probably 97-98% of homes got flooded and less than 10% are damaged or missing beyond repair.
Dorothy Zahran January 07, 2013 at 08:01 PM
If we elevate 8 feet up, then don't we have to worry more about the wind?
Johnjcpa January 07, 2013 at 09:56 PM
Funny thing, I've seen the water marks left in homes that are above flood on those very same maps. Not sure who you've " heard things" from, but I've heard that the new maps were drawn by people that went to college to study meteorology and engineering. Many people who are worried about when they can rebuild should think more about if they should. There aren't enough dredging companies on the east coast to get the majority of beaches back this year. Some of the people that lost their homes should research the Katrina cottages that were designed for the shore and not run to the first builder in the phone book.
Ortley Joe January 07, 2013 at 11:13 PM
I'm thinking the only wind we really have to worry about will come from Toms River
Stephanie Sevastakis January 08, 2013 at 01:56 AM
Houses can be raised up after the finish work is done, you just have to move out for a short time. If you finish your homes, move in and by then the towns convince FEMA that the regulations are too conservative then you only have to abide by the more realistic regs. If you wait until they figure it out then you will be out of your house for months. If you are counting on insurance $ to move forward then chances are you won't get it until you at least agree to raise your house to the new level. You should be able to do that without pilings until the final map is adopted in August but who knows how fair the insurance companies, FEMA and the mortgage companies are going to be.
Stephanie Sevastakis January 08, 2013 at 02:28 AM
Johnjcpa- my home got at least 2 1/2 feet but had never flooded before, I totally agree after the last two little storms that the water tables are higher now so any home that was flooded in Sandy should be raised but it is not "heresay" that the new regs call for pilings in areas that have never flooded before. I would say that raising your homes on much cheaper concrete foundations should be more than sufficient and that FEMA is being unrealistic and causing undo financial and emotional hardship for people.
Stephanie Sevastakis January 08, 2013 at 02:34 AM
Ortley Joe stop blaming local officials for new regulations from FEMA, do you really think that anyone wants this nightmare? If Ortley and the other sections of TR that have been affected can start to rebuild that generates permit fees and jobs as well as tourism this summer. We all pay taxes, even your elected officials, and know what kind of financial devastation is coming our way if they can't convince FEMA to revisit their new elevation regulations.
Gino January 08, 2013 at 03:42 AM
I live in Toms River and my small ranch house is located across the street from the bay. We had about 3 feet of water throughout the entire house. The place is gutted down to the floor joists and wall studs. I have already received my settlement from the insurance company and am just waiting to find out if we qualify for the ICC grant to elevate the house before starting rebuilding. I have heard exactly nothing on this. I can't live with my mother for a year or more while the politicians sort this mess out. Either mandate the elevation requirements so I can put in for the grant or give me the go ahead to start building without the fear of having to elevate after I get started. Either way, I just want to go home.
Stephanie Sevastakis January 08, 2013 at 04:31 AM
Gino I hope this link can be opened, its the first time I ever cut and pasted a link in a blog. Just make sure that your contractor is as familiar as they can be with all of the elevation requirements. http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.fema.gov%2Fnational-flood-insurance-program-2%2Fincreased-cost-compliance-coverage%234&h=XAQFQc_g_AQEed8kVnxLAwUuaH7jliekTajj0991oeOibhQ&enc=AZO5CyrOQLfsFFNBWq_YD90R9ANRfewk6C2GxCGcQ9pDm_CcF_UqJxbrMyYloy746A-VEe52izsArlJWewdtLW6H&s=1.
Michael Capo January 08, 2013 at 06:59 PM
EVERYONE NEEDS TO LOOK AT THIS >http://www.tomsrivertownship.com/downloads/FEMA-ABFE-Review-Letter.pdf SEE ATTACHMENT B1 IT IS THE LETTER FROM TOMS RIVER ENGINEER ASKING FEMA TO CHANGE ORTLEY BEACH TO A "V" FLOOD ZONE. THIS IS THE WORST ZONE WHERE NEW DEVELOPMENT AND REBUILDING ARE SEVERELY IMPACTED AS WILL BE INSURANCE AND CONSTRUCTION COSTS. WHAT A GREAT HELP THEY ARE.
grace January 08, 2013 at 08:01 PM
if a house is raised wont the new floors tile etc crack?
Tonysoprano_62 January 09, 2013 at 03:22 AM
Here is what is shocking to me. I call my assigned third party adjuster every day. Nearly 2 months later he sends me his report that he will submit to the insurance company. But first his supervisor will review it and then it goes to their main office who sends it to my insurance company. Each stop can take anywhere from a couple of days to a week. What's a few weeks among friends? My insurance company has the report now, So send the check I say, Our examiner has to review it first is the response. So then I hear The House of Misrepresentatives has to approve a bill for money so the claim can be settled. They decide to wait until the ball drops and the hangover fades but then again it's new years. What happened to the premiums we paid for the 50 plus years our houses didn't flood? Then they say you need to raise your house or your insurance premiums will go through the roof. Why don't they just tell the truth. Your insurance settlement is a loan. They will get their money back from the policyholder and the taxpayer tenfold over time. .
Stephanie Sevastakis January 09, 2013 at 05:02 AM
Tony - why don't they admit that the money we have paid all these years for premiums means nothing at this point. If they needed to charge more for the estimated cost of a disaster then they should have but they didn't and now they needed a bailout just to make good on their "contracts with homeowners?" It sounds like Fraud to me. And whether they will actually make good on the claims remains to be seen! I honestly can't blame anyone but our Federal government at this point for not fast tracking any red tape with regard to rebuilding our homes under their new regulations that aren't really effective until August and allowing us to get some sense of normalcy back into our lives :(
Rick Ricky January 09, 2013 at 08:36 AM
All types of insurance companies are scums, scams and fraud and the federal government has done nothing about it. You can pay and they will always find an avenue not to pay you. The people of Nj has been getting ripped off for years. Unfortunately no one knows until something serious has happened to them and they need it. Only to be disappointed. The other problem is you have these salesmen who sell the policies who tell the customer everything they want you to here. I have seen friends of mine who was NOT paid on a very small death amount on a loved one on a technically or the sales man lying to them. Nothing gets done to them. Half of them sell the policy and move on to something else and by the time you need them they are no where to be found and if you do find them most will deny what they sold you and what actually happened. The NJ insurance commissioner in NJ is a scam, they are lazy and don't want to help. They will always be on the insurance side because the insurance covers themselves in the contracts with all type of laws that the consumer has no idea.
Tonysoprano_62 January 09, 2013 at 01:24 PM
TypicaI late May morning scenario: I wake up for work at about 4:45 AM smelling the coffee which turned itself on via the timer my wife had set the night before. I then pour a cup and hit the fridge for some milk. While I'm slowly sipping my coffee I open the slider and fall face first onto the deck which is now 3 feet below. Insurance will not pay to raise my deck but will pay for the broken nose. Go figure.
md January 11, 2013 at 01:29 AM
any value in making a meetup group ? trying to get press on it ? (value w respect to speeding up map finalization, getting better grandfathering laws, turning compliance into an option ? ( question is in value of grouping together w media attention, please comment !)
Joseph Simon January 16, 2013 at 06:22 AM
Md, I'm all in!! Please let me know!!!
Joseph Simon January 16, 2013 at 06:25 AM
Please if anyone knows about the whole grandfathering in thing, let me know. We are in dire need of help!
mjmjr January 16, 2013 at 10:22 AM
To all flood people,would you want to build your house at the same level it was or would you want to raise your home.the insurance company will not keep on paying,and Toms River Township should get the right height.Where are all our elected officials ,you dont hear from them.this town is a joke.MOST PEOPLE WILL NOT GET PAID TO COVER REBUILDING.VERY SAD.
Bernie Neuhaus January 17, 2013 at 02:22 PM
Grandfathering has been discontinued
Bernie Neuhaus January 17, 2013 at 02:24 PM
Im in the baywood section of brick and was a grandfathered AE and now a proposed V and NO MORE GRANDFATHERING as per mayor, governor and FEMA.
Michael Capo January 20, 2013 at 02:18 PM
Great piece of helpful information. What most people don't see here is that these new flood rates , coupled with increases in auto , hazard and fire insurance as well as higher property taxes are a part of the continuing assault on the middle class. A Rutgers economist wrote that the complexion of the Jersey Shore will change to mostly wealth landowners who will be able to afford all of the aforementioned fees/taxes. I know it may be shocking for some mainlanders to learn that not everyone on the barrier island is a millionaire. The middle class will be pushed off the barrier island as well as being destroyed throughout the rest of the country by the socialists who have taken over and suspended our constitution (eg Obamacare, Gun reform)
Christina Weaver January 23, 2013 at 06:30 PM
I live in the Baywood section of Brick too. From what I can tell it appears that the proposal changes me from "AE" to "V". I am not on the water. I am across the street from a lagoon.
Christina Weaver February 02, 2013 at 06:10 PM
From what I understand, having discussed this with my Flood Insurance Broker who's mother's house in Belmar is in the same situation as mine: IF you've had flood insurance in effect for an unbroken period THEN you should get flood insurance for "a little bit more than you've been paying". Like floodwaters, this is all fluid, I realize. I am putting it out there if it's of any help to those similarly-situated. As of Feb 1, 2013, this is my broker's understanding, combined with the knowledge his mother has culled from attending FEMA workshops. In my case, there is no percentage in fighting the re-classification because Sandy's flood waters swept through.I want to be in a group of others who've done what they're supposed to in order to REDUCE their risk of flooding. I want to be in the BIGGEST POOL (for lack of another term) of POLICYHOLDERS so as to SPREAD THE RISK.If you can't see the ocean because of the new (grass-implanted) dunes, it's a small price to pay.Why would former Ocean Viewers want THAT restored? Why should they be allowed to have what they want anyway?It's interfering with the Public Good and not a responsible husbanding of resources.
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