Ocean City looking for engineering firms to consult with over FEMA maps

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Mayor Gillian issues statement on advisory base flood maps

Mayor Gillian issues statement on advisory base flood maps Mayor Gillian issues statement on advisory base flood maps

OCEAN CITY — Ocean City Mayor Jay Gillian issued a statement Friday, Feb. 8 announcing that the city was looking for a qualified coastal engineer to consult with regarding the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s advisory base flood elevation maps recently adopted for the state of New Jersey.

In a letter to residents, Gillian noted that the administration has been reviewing the ramifications of Gov. Chris Christie’s adoption of the maps for the entire state in January.

“The ABFE Maps are seriously flawed and inaccurate for many parts of our community. They are, by FEMA’s own admission, based on incomplete data and analysis,” Gillian wrote.

Many of the concerns stem from the maps inclusion of various properties into what is called the V zone, a zone that would experience 3 foot or higher waves during a 100-year storm. Inclusion in this zone requires that buildings be at a higher elevation than those in what is called the A zone.

The city is consulting with neighboring communities and the New Jersey League of Municipalities “in order to express a unified opposition to the adoption of these maps,” Gillian wrote. The city would like to work with FEMA on making changes to the maps, which the city considers flaws.

A request for proposals has been issued for a qualified coastal engineer to assist the city in its dealings with FEMA. Gillian wrote that he expects to recommend a contract with a firm to City Council at its Feb. 14 meeting.

“We in Ocean City all have tremendous sympathy for the devastated communities to our north. However, our situation is different. It is that point I am trying my best to make,” Gillian wrote.

The city has compiled information pertinent to the subject on its website.

In his letter, Gillian emphasized that properties that have not sustained more than 50 percent damage do not have to take action at this time and that those that have, have options to delay elevation projects.

“If you are able to do so, the best advice may be to wait until FEMA provides preliminary base flood elevation maps later this year. It is my hope that the steps the city is taking to interact with FEMA in the coming months will lead to these maps being much more accurate than the ABFE maps that we are currently dealing with,” Gillian wrote.

Read the full letter below:

Dear Friends: 

My Administration has been carefully reviewing the ramifications of FEMA’s Advisory Base Flood Elevation (ABFE) Maps and Governor Christie’s recent adoption of them for the entire state. 

The ABFE Maps are seriously flawed and inaccurate for many parts of our community. They are, by FEMA’s own admission, based on incomplete data and analysis. 

I am aware of the serious concerns many of you have, especially those of you who find your property is now in the “V Zone” on these maps. I share those feelings and have expressed my concerns to officials at multiple levels of the state and federal governments. Additionally, my staff and I are consulting with neighboring communities and the New Jersey League of Municipalities in order to express a unified opposition to the adoption of these maps and, just as importantly, work with FEMA on correcting the obvious flaws. 

The City has issued a request for proposals from qualified coastal engineering consulting firms to assist us in our dealings with FEMA. I expect to recommend a contract with such a firm to the City Council at their meeting on February 14, 2013. 

We in Ocean City all have tremendous sympathy for the devastated communities to our north. However, our situation is different. It is that point I am trying my best to make. 

In an effort to provide you with as much information as possible about this important subject, the City has compiled numerous informational pieces. You may view these materials HERE. I encourage you to check these pages on our website frequently as new information will be added. 

I would like to emphasize some important points: 

If your property was not substantially damaged you do not have to take any action at this time. (A structure is considered substantially damaged if the cost of restoration exceeds 50% of the market value of the structure prior to the damage.) 

Even if homes are substantially damaged, homeowners may be able to take certain measures to make their home habitable pending elevation. FEMA guidelines provide for a period of up to four years so that owners can properly prepare and finance their elevation project. 

If you are able to do so, the best advice may be to wait until FEMA provides Preliminary Base Flood Elevation Maps later this year. It is my hope that the steps the City is taking to interact with FEMA in the coming months will lead to these maps being much more accurate than the ABFE Maps that we are currently dealing with. 

There are indications that significant sources of grant funding will be available to assist owners with elevation projects. The City will aggressively pursue any such funding. 

If you have any questions please feel free to call us at 609-399-6111. 

Sincerely, 

Jay A. Gillian

Mayor


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