Flood insurance premiums could become more costly, especially if homeowners do not raise the elevation of their homes after the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) changes its flood maps, Seaside Heights officials said.
"The Federal government is getting out of the business of subsidizing flood insurance," Mayor Wiliam Akers said at Wednesday night's Borough Council meeting.
“Your flood insurance rates is going to be directly reflected of the risk of your home,” Borough Administrator John Camera said. The rates will reflect how much a person's home is different from the base flood elevation standard that FEMA is proposing in its maps, he said.
"You won’t be required by borough to (elevate your house), but flood insurance rates could go up dramatically if you don’t," Camera said.
FEMA's flood maps help set the basis of local ordinances for building codes in flood prone areas and help guide the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA posted an interactive, Advisory Base Flood Elevations Map online earlier this week, which allows residents to type in an address to see where they stand on the flood map.
This map will shape the rebuilding process after Hurricane Sandy, since it will entail the degree in which some damaged homes may need to be elevated, as well as new construction.
Borough Administrator John Camera said FEMA admitted the proposed elevation rates for new construction and extensive remodeling "go to the high side" but they didn't reveal by how much.
FEMA officials said last week that the increase in base elevations will range from one feet to five feet on average in a ten-county region.
Grants up to $30,000 to elevate homes are available to people covered under the National Flood Insurance Program who live in a Special Flood Hazard Area, FEMA said.
Earlier this week, Toms River officials said on the township's Website there are some errors on the FEMA map and that officials are being overly conservative about the height at which homes would need to be built.