FEMA meeting to discuss flood maps, insurance

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PETERSBURG – Upper Township will host an informational meeting Saturday with representatives of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to discuss changes to the National Flood Insurance Program and new base flood advisory maps that will affect many homeowners in Strathmere and other barrier islands.

 

The meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Feb. 23 at Township Hall, 2100 Tuckahoe Road.

The changes to flood insurance and base flood elevation are controversial. Together, they could change the face of the Jersey Shore.

Gov. Chris Christie signed an executive order last month accepting FEMA’s advisory maps for base flood elevations. The regulations adopted requirements and procedures for New Jersey residents and businesses to construct, reconstruct, relocate and elevate buildings and other structures in flood hazard areas.

Homes that are not raised to the new elevations could face annual insurance premiums of $31,000. That could force residents out of their homes, or result in a loss in home values, residents say.

The new FEMA advisory base flood elevation maps move more parts of Strathmere into the V zone, and recommend V zone construction practices in areas still designated as A zone.

The V or velocity zone is the area in which construction is at greatest risk from floods and waves.

In Strathmere and Whale Beach, beachfront homes in the V zone would have to be built at a 14-foot elevation to withstand a 100-year storm. Some homes on Bayview Drive would have to have a 12-foot elevation.

Most of the homes in Strathmere, which remain in the A zone, would have to build at an 11-foot elevation, but the advisory maps recommend building to the V zone standards.

Because of reforms to the National Flood Insurance program, which regulate that flood insurance premiums be determined by actual risk, if residents do not conform to these new elevation standards they could see a substantial increase in their flood insurance premiums.

For instance, if a property owner is currently in an A zone, but at four feet below the base flood elevation, and is reclassified as a higher threat V zone and takes no action, that property will be rated at a higher risk and be subject to an approximate annual premium (phased in) of up to $31,000.

In contrast, if the owner were to rebuild to the suggested base flood elevation, the annual premium (phased in) would be approximately $7,000.

If that same resident rebuilds two feet above the base flood elevation for their new zone, the annual premium would be approximately $3,500, a savings of up to $27,500 annually.

 


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