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Flood Maps Could Alter Shoreline 'Considerably' and at 'Unimaginable' Cost, Mayor Says

Mayor Thomas Kelaher responds to Gov. Chris Christie's announcement that the state has adopted FEMA flood maps

The state's adoption Thursday of the current Advisory Base Flood Elevation maps issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency could change Toms River's shoreline, and at a high cost, Mayor Thomas Kelaher said. 

"The Governor’s action assures us that our residents will remain eligible for FEMA funding, but in our township, we could see up to 10,000 homes needing to be raised," Kelaher said in a statement issued Thursday night. "This will change the look of our shoreline considerably and the cost is unimaginable."

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.

"The issue that the township has with this announcement is that we believe that significant portions of the township mainland and portions of the barrier island are in the wrong flood designation V vs. an A zone," Council President George Wittmann said in a statement Friday morning. "This will force homeowners to wait until August until the maps are released to see if the zone changes back to an A zone."

Wittmann has indicated that the state's adoption of the maps could become a financial burden to residents trying to rebuild if they are changed upon final release in August.

"If they move ahead they could potentially spend $20-30 thousand more to construct a foundation system that complies with the V zone requirement," he said.

The Township Council, which has disputed the classifications on the now-adopted maps, this week passed a resolution opposing the documents. 

"The maps really created more questions than they did answers," Kelaher said during the the Tuesday night meeting when the resolution was passed. 

"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," Kelaher said in a statement Thursday night. The engineer, Bob Chankalian, has written to FEMA and, along with Kelaher and other township representatives, met with FEMA officials on Wednesday.

FEMA representatives said that the agency will examine the velocity zone designations that are in question. The mainland velocity zone may be reduced when the next round of maps are released, according to the township, but FEMA could not yet commit to that change. 

FEMA also said that it is "highly likely" that the sections of barrier island not in the velocity zone will likely end up in that zone when revised maps are released in August, according to the township. 

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. 

More information about the governor's announcement and how insurance rates may be affected is available here. 

S. Bar January 30, 2013 at 08:53 PM
This can't be legal Lee. I bet we start to see people suing the fed. govt. who we relied on giving us accurate base flood elevations and maps. Turns out they considered them outdated prior to Sandy. That is not our fault and if they kept on top of this we would have known our houses weren't considered high enough PRIOR to buying.
Suzanne February 11, 2013 at 12:07 PM
Our house was 7 ft above the 100 yr flood. We were so very fortunate that the water stopped inches below our floor joists. Only the crawl, shed and garage had water. All things not covered by our flood insurance anyway. Now we are 2 ft below? Because we did not suffer the horrible tragedy of many we do not qualify for remediation grants. What the heck did we pay flood insurance for? This house has been in the family since 1983. Never had we seen water cover our dock. I feel greatly for those on the barrier island. But the dunes must go up all along the Jersey shore. If the dunes were there we never would have flooded the way we did. Build those dunes. Sorry Richie Rich but your few weeks of views is not worth it to the rest of us. I think we should sue them. I'm so angry that the rest of us will have to pay for those views. Jersey got it wrong many years ago when they allowed people to own the beach. It is wrong in so many ways.
foggyworld February 24, 2013 at 12:02 AM
It's worse than that. Those of us who did build on 10' high pilings that kept our homes snug and dry are now being told that Fema will insist that we raise those houses that worked like a charm and put two or three more feet of piling height under our dry homes. Sure. This is obviously a plan to remove all people from coastal areas at the price of financially ruining thousands of families who believe me will not move on to another corner of New Jersey. Folks on the western coast of Barnegat Bay may not be millionaires but we sure are heavy duty tax payers who if all goes according to Fema, will soon be paying those tax monies to another, better run State. Where IS that Governor who gave away all of his powers to one of the least effective federal agencies which is very busy ruining not just our lives but quite possibly his chances of being re-elected. It was Monmouth and Ocean Counties that threw him over the top first go round and whoever those poll takers of his are that say he has a 74% approval rating, are out of their birds or just didn't bother to connect with we who are getting used to being neglected. We will stay here long enough to vote, however. Oops, gotta go. Someone's at the door working for Christie's re-election and I don't want to miss this. It isn't Christie himself though because he views himself as being above the fray.
foggyworld February 24, 2013 at 12:16 AM
It looks more like 2 cents on the dollar and those folks you are referring to are the one percenters for whom this world apparently turns.
foggyworld February 24, 2013 at 12:23 AM
Trouble is that that thinking is faulty. Both the State and federal governments are bankrupt for starters and people in need are getting close to nothing The dollars that have come in have gone right to the county and town officials who are not spreading any of it to the folks really in need in case you haven't noticed. It looks more like Christie realized this would mean a ton of work for him and he needed his time to campaign for not one but two elections so he happily tossed his workload onto the laps of Fema. Either the Governor is beyond naive or he is one big con who is focused oh his own personal career and could care less about finding clever ways to get funding for people who he obviously is willing to write off Back to California he will go to raise the next $2 million for his campaign - not for the people in need at all.
foggyworld February 24, 2013 at 12:24 AM
It's a waste of energy to ask civil "servants" for answers. The solution is to try to stick it out long enough to vote these people out for their failing performances.
foggyworld February 24, 2013 at 12:26 AM
We are being intentionally confused so that the time to appeal these insane map errors and proposed building code changes elapses and turns Fema's horrible work into law written into concrete. The clock is ticking right now....
foggyworld February 24, 2013 at 12:35 AM
OK, I'm on ten foot pilings on three feet of water on the western side of the Bay and my house remained dry. That wasn't good enough for fema: in order to avoid having to pay $2500 a MONTH in flood insurance, we would have to raise this house another three feet. They can't justify that one at all because the three houses in this area that are on pilings made it through the storm and stayed dry. The highest water mark I could find on our breakaway wall was about a foot high by one of the vents made to push the water to an outdoor drainage system that moved the liquid to the sewer. So that fleeting one foot mark now requires us to really structurally endanger this house that was built to outer Banks North Carolina building codes in 1998. They worked just fine but only Fema finds fault with this complex system that we foolishly invested in. But to fight them means to hire a lawyer or two and an engineer. For what? To stay in this mismanaged (I'm being polite) State? No. There are other places that do try to work with the citizens who float the bills. Never going to happen in the Garden State where self interest rules and all power is taken from the people.
foggyworld February 24, 2013 at 12:41 AM
You misunderstand the lifestyle of the rich and famous. The Governor will never shell out a single dime to either repair or replace his summer mansion. I have been looking for a frontal view of that place and surprise can't find one on the internet. I have seen the house from the back but you can't determine from that view if that house is or is not on pilings. I do believe he has a helicopter pad so that might have to be redesigned upwards. But you have to understand that he couldn't care less because he expects you and me to take care of things for him and I'm sure the construction folks involved will clean up any problems the mansion sustained way before Memorial Day. So the Governor will be just fine. It's the rest of us who won't be.
foggyworld February 24, 2013 at 12:42 AM
Those casinos have a very long wait. And this State is tanking.
foggyworld February 24, 2013 at 12:46 AM
It seems the other governors involved have actually rolled up their sleeves and dug into the mess and as a result they are protecting their citizens and their own turf. We got hit by more than Sandy: we got hit by our Governor who thought he was moving on and up to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and would give his work to Fema which has never, ever earned more than a D+ for its so called "efforts."
foggyworld February 24, 2013 at 12:47 AM
From what I have read, Fema ignored our maps for 30 years and is now just putting this insanity together because Christie is enabling them.
foggyworld February 24, 2013 at 12:54 AM
Wiser heads would have suggested giving people who complied with REASONABLE changes to NJ's way out of date building codes, significant tax credits. But that just ain't in the cards. There's no money it for the in-crowd. And for people who could not take on the burden of a loan, they should have been allowed to repair where they stood. Ultimately those houses would be bought in the future as tear downs and the houses replacing them who be built to code. The few houses that were truly destroyed should have had access to low, low interest loans to help them come back. But that's why we have banks. Now if only they weren't also so out of control .....
foggyworld February 24, 2013 at 12:56 AM
Dear Fed Up, Do NOT bulld up without your town's and fema's approval because if you go ahead alone you will not be entitled to any funds from Fema. See a lawyer before you do anything.
foggyworld February 24, 2013 at 12:57 AM
That's kind of a given because not many folks can afford even that sort of "vacation" from this hell.
foggyworld February 24, 2013 at 01:05 AM
We have been paying the piper all along by paying humungous taxes and for high insurance which the government never should have run. And don't even bring up Manchester which today we learned though spared by the storm is now about to be able to tap into the SBA loan money that was set aside for actual storm victims. And many of us, by the way, have been building to what the American Association of Architects has been suggesting for well over 20 years. The problem was created by homes built before pilings were dreamed of and the towns in NJ that continued to resist raising those standards to include hurricane prevention techniques. The folks you think should shoulder more have lost a great deal more than the $30,000 per house in Manchester. The entire State is sinking because of our ultra high taxes and people just don't want to live in this area any more. And watch out because it isn't just shore communities fema is coming after. You could be the next to be told to rebuild your homes say to meet standards that will survive an Oyster Creek disaster. But if we leave and after you and the folks in Lakewood have siphoned off money intended for new pilings which do in fact work, just think of what your property taxes are going to be.
foggyworld February 24, 2013 at 01:07 AM
And the lack of grandfathering is also the result of one of the few decisions the Governor made by himself.
foggyworld February 24, 2013 at 01:11 AM
And if you dig into how Fema arrived at these measurements, you will find them to be sorely lacking in scientific merit. Problem is we the people have to hire lawyers and engineers to contest what everyone agrees is faulty data. And Fema's notions about building hurricane prevention houses are way over and above what has been proven to work just fine for a great deal less money.
foggyworld February 24, 2013 at 01:14 AM
Dave above, Self insurance should be an option but the banks have cut that one off and REQUIRE their customers to carry and pay for that ridiculously expensive insurance on these homes that Fema claims are never worth more than $250,000.
foggyworld February 24, 2013 at 01:15 AM
Please just repair. Anything you pay for without fema's blessing is completely on you.
foggyworld February 24, 2013 at 01:16 AM
Because our Governor gave Fema ALL of the power we gave him to run this state.
foggyworld February 24, 2013 at 01:17 AM
There is no cost-effective way to stay. It's one big Catch 22.
foggyworld February 24, 2013 at 01:19 AM
It makes perfect sense if your goal is to rid this area of the middle class. As Rahm Emanuel has often said to the President, "never let a crisis go to waste."
foggyworld February 24, 2013 at 01:22 AM
I sure hope you got that in writing because I get all sorts of answers and none of them line up with one another. Fema isn't the only player in this game. Local officials are a big part of it and in other states, the Governors are playing huge roles.
foggyworld February 24, 2013 at 01:24 AM
Jim, that has to be a joke question. One is 89 and finally realizes he ought not to run for re-election and the other one has huge personal problems to contend with that just have to be cutting into his sleep and also his devotion to duty.
foggyworld February 24, 2013 at 01:25 AM
In the beginning I thought our elected officials were naive and "allowing it to happen" As time has gone by I have had to accept the fact that those officials are enablers of Fema.
foggyworld February 24, 2013 at 01:29 AM
And just what did the dear Governor have to say about his stopping things right now and putting his bad decision behind him and telling Fema to go home. And just what is he and his large band of civil servants doing besides widening the road to Seaside? What is he actually doing and supervising and is he sending lawyers into courtrooms to defend us from the predators who have invaded from Washington?
foggyworld February 24, 2013 at 01:34 AM
I would add that the State of NJ would seem to have the legal responsibility to prevent any federal agency from devastating thousands of its citizens via a program run by the well known to be inept federal group called Fema. And I also think the State should reserve the right to establish state wide but area sensitive building codes that are realistic and take the small town pols out of holding power they are for the most part unable to use in an educated and wise way.
foggyworld February 24, 2013 at 01:35 AM
"FAIR" is a word that civil "servants" never, ever operate under.
foggyworld February 24, 2013 at 01:37 AM
If you were among the lucky, you paid all those insurance premiums to be given an SBA loan application probably by a Fema person. For this we have a huge standing army of civil "servants" who once again are unable to deliver the goods we paid for.

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