A revised ordinance would require Long Branch residents within the city's newly expanded flood zone to rebuild their homes two feet above the base flood elevation.
Long Branch Code Enforcement Officer Kevin Hayes explained the revised flood prevention ordinance during Thursday night's council meeting and said raising the requirement to two feet was the best option for the city.
"We are recommending requiring homes in the special flood hazard zone to be rebuilt at two feet above the base flood elevation," Hayes said. "We thought two feet was a really smart way to do it."
The city's current flood prevention ordinance requires homes to be built at the base flood elevation.
Hayes said the city needs to review and adopt FEMA's recently released Advisory Base Flood Elevation (ABFE) maps and incorporate them into the ordinance to get mitigation funds from FEMA.
Although the data used in the storm does not include any relating to Sandy, officials say it best represents the type of flood protection needed during similar storms that have a one percent chance of occurring each year.
"These were on the books, ready to move forward anyway," Hayes said. "They are still doing a lot more studies, and we anticipate the maps to be changed down the road at some point in time."
The ABFEs are the result of an analysis of past storms, changing and more detailed topography, and weather’s impact on 1,800 miles of coastal, tidal zones.
The mapping includes three different zones. V Zones are high hazard zones that would be impacted by ocean waves during a one percent storm, like homes along the ocean. A Zones are also high hazard zones, but would only have expectation of significant damage during one percent chance storms. The final zone is the X Zone, which present moderate hazard.
Long Branch Construction Official Stan Midose said the city's 100-year flood plain expanded southward from Atlantic Avenue toward Joline Avenue.
"It's expanded quite a bit," Midose said.
"People in an X zone, may now find themselves in an A zone in the area north of Joline Avenue," Hayes added.
Hayes said it would cost a homeowner whose home is 4 feet below the base flood elevation $9,500 per year for flood insurance after new costs come out next year. 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 plain would pay $427 per year.
Hayes said raising a home two feet above the base elevation would still be a 66 percent savings for homeowners and would be a little cheaper than raising them up another foot and will keep more homes throughout the city's flood zone in compliance.
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.
Midose said the new average base flood elevation for homes within the hazards is about nine feet, but is closer to 11 feet for many homes in North Long Branch.
Hayes said when it comes to raising your house to the new flood elevation levels, homeowners with flood insurance can apply for Increased Cost of Compliance funding, which can provide up to $30,000. Homeowners who suffered flooding from Sandy and don’t have flood insurance aren’t eligible.
Residents can also apply for mitigation grants to raise their homes, Long Branch Police Sgt. Charles Shirley said.
Midose said homes that were "substantially damaged" by Hurricane Sandy must be raised two feet above the base flood elevation, according to the revised ordinance.
"If your house is damaged to the point where to repair it back to it's pre-storm condition exceeds 50 percent of the market value of the structure, you're substantially damaged," Midose said.
Midose said a resident could also demolish their home and rebuild it to make it comply with the ordinance.
He said he has looked at several homes damaged by Hurricane Sandy and said nine are considered substantially damaged.
"Basically, the building is a shell that needs to be rebuilt," he said.
The flood prevention ordinance could be introduced at the first Long Branch Council meeting of 2013.