Flood elevation questions dominate FEMA workshop on hurricane relief

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Ventnor Mayor Mike Bagnell, right, addresses the audience in auditorium of the Ventnor Educational Community Complex Monday, Jan. 28. Ventnor Mayor Mike Bagnell, right, addresses the audience in auditorium of the Ventnor Educational Community Complex Monday, Jan. 28.

VENTNOR – More than 500 residents in search of Hurricane Sandy recovery assistance attended a meeting with officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Small Business Administration Monday, Jan. 28 at the Ventnor Educational Community Complex.

The main topic was the Advisory Base Flood Elevation maps released by FEMA, which list updated first-floor elevations for buildings in flood zones.

Officials said the requirements can be found online at www.region2coastal.com/sandy/table, where property owners can put in their address and be advised of the required first-floor elevation. Buildings that are below the recommended elevations will most likely be subject to higher flood insurance premiums.

FEMA public information officer Susan Solomon encouraged people whose property sustained damage as a result of Sandy to register with FEMA, saying they should get a call back in seven to 10 days to schedule an appointment for a representative to survey the damage.

According to Solomon, as of Monday, Jan. 28, a total of 254,758 households had registered. Of those, 21,280 are from Atlantic County and 6,108 are from Cape May County. On Monday alone, there were 17 additional registrations with FEMA in Atlantic County and 15 in Cape May County.

Also as of Monday, FEMA grants for Hurricane Sandy disaster relief in New Jersey totaled $347.8 million, and $328.6 million in low-interest loans were approved by the SBA.

Michael Flores, public information officer for the SBA, said interest rates are as low a 1.688 percent, with repayment terms up to 30 years.

Homeowners can be approved for up to $200,000 for property, he said, and homeowners and renters can be approved for up to $40,000 for personal property.

Flores said many people are asking him where they are going to get the money to elevate their homes.

First, he said, there is a provision called increased cost of compliance offered through flood insurance carriers which can give homeowners whose properties sustained 50 percent or more of the assessed value in damages or have been deemed substantially damaged up to $30,000 for flood mitigation.

Flores said people can apply for both the ICC and a loan from the SBA.

“They are hesitant in this economy because it is a loan,” Flores said. “It is a tool to help restore your family and restore your way of life. I tell them to take the information and you can make a personal decision.”

The SBA loan can also be modified to include the cost of a high insurance deductible.

Flores said anyone can apply. The deadline is March 1, and within seven and 21 days of turning in the application, a loan officer would begin the process.

To register with FEMA see www.diasterassistance.gov or call (800) 621-3361.

To apply to the SBA online see www.diasterloan.sba.gov/elaor call (800) 659-2955. 

More than 500 people pack the auditorium of the Ventnor Educational Community Complex Monday, Jan. 28 to hear from FEMA and SBA representatives. More than 500 people pack the auditorium of the Ventnor Educational Community Complex Monday, Jan. 28 to hear from FEMA and SBA representatives.   FEMA and SBA representatives break into groups in the school cafeteria to answer resident questions one on one.   FEMA and SBA representatives break into groups in the school cafeteria to answer resident questions one on one.


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