Home Buyouts in Flooded Areas Not Off the Table

Gov. Christie said home buyouts are a possibility, but that he's leaving the decision to individual towns to make.

State-funded buyouts of homes in flood-prone neighborhoods ravaged by Hurricane Sandy is a possibility, Gov. Christie said this week.

However, when it comes to a final decision, it’s one he hopes the residents will make.

In Sea Bright, Christie was joined Thursday afternoon by U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan to discuss the allocation of $1.8 billion that will be used to fund Community Development Block grants, or CDBGs. Though that money will be focused on rebuilding homes and small businesses, future HUD allocations could be used for residential buyouts.

It’s not something he’d like to see, Christie said, but if a community finds that it’s the best option for their future, it will have to be considered.

“I want to make sure that it’s known that people have time, away from the emotion of this, to make a cool and calm decision as a community as to whether they want to sell out or whether they want to rebuild,” he said. “And we’ll make those decisions then.”

Residential buybacks would likely be handled through the state’s already existing Blue Acres program, which is used to buy properties in flood-prone areas and convert them to open space. The long under-funded program could see a serious injection of cash should demand for residential property buyouts grow.

Already, Christie said towns like Union Beach in Monmouth County and Sayerville in Middlesex County, among others, have expressed some interest in the possibility.

Donovan said neighborhood buyouts are sometimes the best option for areas that are likely to see a recurrence of serious flood damage. Programs like these only work, he said, when entire affected areas are bought out. A house here or there being bought out when others in the same neighborhood remain means spending both now and later, when that next disaster comes along, he said.

Christie said he agreed, but even though a buyout might represent the best option for some neighborhoods, or at least most cost-effective moving forward, it’s up to the residents of the respective towns, ultimately, to say yes.

As Christie’s administration develops plans with HUD on how best to distribute disaster relief aid, neighborhood buyouts will be considered. But, the appropriate amount of time and consideration must be given to a drastic decision that will displace families. In all, roughly $16 billion of the more than $50 billion Hurricane Sandy relief package passed by Congress in January will be used to fund HUD projects.

Following initial funding allocations, about $11 billion remains.

“It’s certainly not something where I’m going to make the decision to condemn certain areas of this state and tell people they cannot rebuild there,” Christie said. “I’m very uncomfortable with using that authority. We have it we need it, but I don’t think in this circumstance it’s the right thing to do.

“I think it’s much more appropriate to let the community come to some sort of consensus, and if they do, then I’d certainly be willing to sit with the secretary and discuss the possibility of using some of this money (to fund buyouts).”

Irina February 11, 2013 at 02:23 PM
@Karen M OK you think my statements are asinine. I stand behind what I state. AND I think your statements are long winded and boring. AGAIN>>>>>>>My taxdollars have no business buying out anyone...YOU wanted to live on the beach, well live with your decision. Not my problem.
proud February 11, 2013 at 02:47 PM
@I have spoken, Karen M does not live "at the beach". If you read her comments as you allude to, you would know that. If you think that properties on the "beach" are the only ones being affected by FEMA via the Biggert-Waters Act 2012, you are quite mistaken. An unprecedented number of tax appeals and abandonments will drive property values down and local taxes soaring. Foreclosure rates will reach heights that the housing bubble couldn't even come close to touching. Those that could afford to pay usurious flood insurance premiums will deplete their disposable incomes and small businesses will be failing left and right. The ripple effect of this bogus legislation and the impracticality of elevating thousands of homes where it is neither logistically or financially sensible to do so ,affects everyone--NOT just those "at the beach". Lastly, Karen M's comments are both articulate and based on facts, not chatter. She has done her due diligence, and is justified in expressing herself, and frankly, has plenty to complain about. So do you. You just don't realize it yet. www.Facebook.com/StopFemaNow
wookfish February 11, 2013 at 02:58 PM
Swamps, hence the name...Clueless
wookfish February 11, 2013 at 03:00 PM
so is a swift crack to the back of the head Karen M
Chief Wahoo February 11, 2013 at 03:00 PM
It's a jersey shore death spiral. No one will be financially spared .....,
proud February 11, 2013 at 03:42 PM
What you say is true @Cheif Wahoo, unless the citizens of our once great state can impress on our elected representatives(at every level) that financial armageddon will occur if the Biggert-Waters Act-2012 is not amended .This piece of legislation is not reasonable; not doable; and, is a recipe for failure. The only way to accomplish this is by forming a united front. There is strength in numbers. All aboard: www.Facebook.com/StopFemaNow
lucille February 11, 2013 at 04:14 PM
sue would have liked to have attended that meeting on sat but living in north jersey for now with the snow any chance of another meeting
lucille February 11, 2013 at 04:18 PM
lets stop worrying who has ins and where we live down the shore lets try to work together to stop fema
Irina February 11, 2013 at 06:16 PM
@proud To make you happy....AGAIN>>>>>>>My taxdollars have no business buying out anyone...YOU wanted to live in an area the floods, well live with your decision. Not my problem. Happy Now.....
Michael Capo February 11, 2013 at 06:18 PM
The Biggert Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (HR4348) is the bill that will raise all of our flood insurance policies and cause financial hardship for thousands of New Jersey citizens. Guess what two New Jersey Senators voted in favor of this bill? http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=112&session=2&vote=00172
proud February 11, 2013 at 06:27 PM
That's where you are wrong @I have spoken, it IS your problem. Wait until you see your property tax bill. It all start to escalate this year; compound itself next year; and soar in two years and on and on and on... http://www.facebook.com/StopFemaNow
Sam February 11, 2013 at 06:34 PM
go to: www.Facebook.com/StopFemaNow and sign the petition to stop the Biggert-Waters Act. If you are not on Facebook ( worth signing on just to save our homes!) go to petitions.whitehouse.gov and sign the petition. Stop the biggest-Waters act and FEMA.
Karen Bolden February 11, 2013 at 08:27 PM
sound like @ "I Have Spoken" is a jealous, angry person who would like to live "at the beach" but can't afford to
Karen Bolden February 11, 2013 at 08:30 PM
@ I have spoken.........you sound like a jealous person who would like to live at the beach but cannot afford to........mean and angry
proud February 11, 2013 at 11:14 PM
Yes, @Michael Capo, Menendez and Lautenberg threw there constituencies under the bus with this one. At least they are starting to back peddle.I would not hold out any hope for them admitting that they were flat out wrong. That's no reason not to keep the pressure on them as well as every other elected official in the pipeline. With the exception of Pascrell (who did not vote) every New Jersey Representative from the house voted for the Biggert-Waqters Act-2012. Let them know that they are nailing the coffin shut on the economy of our region region if the Act is not amended. Tell everyone you know to do the same and join: www.Facebook.com/StopFemaNow
Marjorie Smith February 12, 2013 at 02:03 AM
Shore homeowners should give a buy-out serious consideration, particularly when their insurance premiums are set to rise sky-high along with the cost associated with rebuilding within the new parameters for flood-prone areas.
Irina February 12, 2013 at 03:24 AM
@proud....My taxes went down with my successful appeal and then I did a senior tax freeze. So I'm not seeing any tax increase. Matter-of-fact. That $1,000. TR sent me bought me 2 tickets on a cruise. @Karen Bolden I live 2 blocks from the beach. I don't have to see it to know it's there. I also missed the FEMA map by 2 blocks. I took no damage what-so-ever...what do I have to be jelious of? Because I had no damage. I'm pissed that the taxpayers are gonna get stuck paying the bills to build dunes for for the elitists and private beaches. Karen for not affording it....YEA right....You would love to see my bank book and investments. MORON!!!!
proud February 12, 2013 at 03:39 AM
@I have spoken, now you are not being truthful. Your "story" doesn't add up. Just out of curiosity,exactly what beach is it that you live two blocks from? Do tell.
Irina February 12, 2013 at 03:40 AM
All you people crying about FEMA, should remember the administrator of FEMA, W. Craig Fugate was appointed by your president Obama. How many of you crying voted for Obama? You have nobody to thank for the FEMA mess but yourselves. Good Luck!!!!!!!!!!!
proud February 12, 2013 at 05:39 AM
@I have spoken, just so you are aware of it, Craig Fugate was offered the position of FEMA director in 2005 by President George W. Bush,but declined as he didn't feel it was the right time to assume the duties in the aftermath of the blundering of Hurricane Katrina ( what youre really paying for)by then Director Michael Brown. At that time, Fugate was Director of Emergency Services for the stae of Florida he was appointed to that position by Governor Jeb Bush. You might want to re think your political angle as Fugate is often considered to be apolitical. That's not to say he is good-- because he is not. Just some facts for you to think about. Speaking of facts, I did ask what beach you it was that you live two blocks from that is not in a flood proun area. You didn't get back to me. Enquiring minds want to know. I thank you in advance for your response. www.Facebook.com/StopFemaNow
Irina February 12, 2013 at 12:05 PM
Snug Harbor. The front of snug harbor is not in the flood plane. I'll do some more research about Mr. Fugate.
proud February 12, 2013 at 04:37 PM
@I have spoken, I know Snug Harbor. What a nice neighborhood. I'm not quite sure what "beach" that you are talking about, though. Would you let me know . Not knowing your exact address, I was unable to identify your proximity to the waterfront. One thing that did occur to me as I viewed the satellite imagery of Snug Harbor is how remarkably similar it is to that of Karen M. I do recognize your frustrations with taxes. I hope that your senior tax freeze(PTR) won't be frozen at an assessed rate far above it's it's true fair market value. The reason that I say that is because property values in your area are tanking as we speak. I also understand that you are concerned regarding the allocation of tax dollars (federal & state I assume) used for property purchases. Most likely, you felt the same way when President Roosevelt signed The Antiquities Act into law. Good luck to you and I am rooting for you that the Biggert-Waters Act-2012 does not significantly diminish the vast wealth that you have amassed.
proud February 12, 2013 at 04:47 PM
@I have spoken, the following is a very good article that might jump start your research on Mr. Fugate. You can Google it if you please, and no thanks are necessary: {Can FEMA Director Craig Fugate Save Us—and Obama—From ... www.thedailybeast.com/.../fema-director-craig-fugate-can-save-us-all... Oct 29, 2012 – Can FEMA Director Craig Fugate Save Us—and Obama—From Sandy? ... down George W. Bush's offer in 2005 to make him director of FEMA.}
Irina February 12, 2013 at 06:04 PM
OK not quite beach...Water. If I want beach I have parks admin 2 blocks from me or Catus Island 3 blocks from me or Shelter Cover 1 mile from me. When I purchased I had small children and I didn't want water in my back yard. the daily beast I wouldn't call the most reputable source of info. Matter-of-fact all the press has gone down the toilet in the last bunch of years. If the property values go down further, I'll just do another tax appeal and freeze. It was so simple I did all the papers myself. My problem is like nobody did an appeal on my street (just 4 of 30) so that may hurt me.
proud February 12, 2013 at 06:51 PM
OK,@I have spoken, at least we're on the same page. Now, you know that you were mistaken when you castigated @Karen M., and I do believe you owe her an apology. You needn't apologize to me, as I have a thick skin and am impervious to rudity.While, I agree that the Daily Beast may not be the most credible source of information, it's a start. There are numerous sources that will confirm what you already now know.It should be reflected inyour research. Again, you needn't thank me .As to your comment, "IF property values go down again", I don't think that is really a question in point. It's already happened and will continue to do so. You can thank the Biggert-Waters Act 2012 for that. It would be unnacceptably forward for me to tell you what to do @ I have spoken, but if it were me, I'd get out the quill and feather and start writing. I'm confident that you're up for the chore. Heck, when you're through with the paperwork a $500 cruise awaits you. Bon Voyage.
Freetobeyouandme February 12, 2013 at 08:14 PM
Neither Bush nor Obama hold the responsibility for the bastardization of FEMA. It was Clinton when he appointed James Lee Witt. http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/10/how-a-smart-conservative-would-reform-fema/264367/ He who forgets the past is doomed to repeat it (...in 2016!?!)
Michael Capo February 12, 2013 at 08:37 PM
The Biggert Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (HR4348) is the bill that will raise all of our flood insurance policies and cause financial hardship for thousands of New Jersey citizens. Guess what two New Jersey Senators voted in favor of this bill? http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=112&session=2&vote=00172
Michael Capo February 12, 2013 at 08:38 PM
The Biggert Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (HR4348) is the bill that will raise all of our flood insurance policies and cause financial hardship for thousands of New Jersey citizens. Guess what two New Jersey Senators voted in favor of this bill? http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=112&session=2&vote=00172
S. Bar February 12, 2013 at 09:10 PM
Good point. Romney wanted to bring it to the state levels but obama lied and told everyone he wanted to get rid of all emergency assistance. Here we are dealing w/ FEMA and those who voted for obama are complaining.
Jimr February 22, 2013 at 09:39 PM
Forget.fema that should be dismanteled they are not for the home owners at all. Have a ranch home 3 bed rooms 2 baths over 3 feet of water and sewerage and they said its habbittable no floors walls or bathroom they are a joke ,people that rent a home down the street got 15,000.00 check and now are in section 8 housing


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