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'Big Changes' Expected in FEMA's Flood Zone Map for Long Branch

City expects to receive new map later this month

Big changes are expected to be coming on FEMA's flood zone map for Long Branch in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

Officials say they expect the flood plain area to be increased, thereby adding several buildings and homes to the area that were not previously in it.

"It's going to be a big change," City Code Enforcement Officer Kevin Hayes said. "We are waiting for FEMA to set the base flood elevation, which is the level of your first finished floor in your building and what height it can be built to."

City Attorney James Aaron said the city will have to amend its flood ordinance once the new FEMA flood zone map is released.

"You're (the council) going to have to set on a municipal level what your elevations are going to be," Aaron said. "When (a builder comes in) are you going to permit someone to build in that flood zone at the flood level."

Hayes said the new regulations will apply to new construction but that people that are living in the existing flood area will be in "jeopardy" as well.

Long Branch Office of Emergency Management Coordinator Stanley Dzuiba said residents whose homes were damaged by Hurricane Sandy have been reaching out to him and the code enforcement office asking if they can rebuild their home in the same way.

"Until we find out what's going on, we are telling everybody to just try to stand by," Dzuiba said during Tuesday night's Long Branch Council meeting.

He explained that it may be best for people to elevate their homes so they can lower flood insurance costs.

He said it would cost a homeowner whose home is 4 feet below the base flood elevation $9,500 per year for flood insurance. A homeowner whose house is at base flood elevation would have to pay $1,410 a year for flood insurance and a person whose home is 3 feet above the flood plan would pay $427 per yer.

"There is money through the flood insurance, also, up to $30,000 I believe it is, that if you raise your house, you are eligible for that," Dzuiba said.

Dzuiba said it would cost between $30,000 to $40,000 to raise a home.

"Over a 10-year period, you are saving about $60,000, plus your eligible," he said.

He said any home or commercial business in the FEMA's new flood plain will be required to get flood insurance, even those not affected by Hurricane Sandy. He said it is likely that there will be buildings added to the flood plain that were not previously there prior to the hurricane.

"It's going to get worse for everybody," Aaron said. "If you go to borrow money from a bank, no bank is going to loan you money unless you have flood insurance."

"Many people will have to take out home equity loans for borrow against the equity of their homes to raise their homes to be able to get the flood insurance at the end of the day, and then pay back the loan," Aaron added.

Dzuiba said the reconstruction of the city's boardwalk will likely rely on FEMA's new flood zone map as well.

He said the flood zone map was supposed to be released on Dec. 10, but that the city should now expect to receive it by next week.

Ken Jones December 13, 2012 at 09:43 PM
The FEMA flood maps are definitely not perfect. You can dispute the maps and get yourself out of the flood zone. Check out www.floodzoneremoval.com for instructions.

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