TRENTON — Governor Chris Christie yesterday signed emergency regulations to adopt the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) updated Advisory Base Flood Elevation maps as the rebuilding standard for the entire state.
“It is absolutely critical that we take this opportunity to rebuild New Jersey smarter and stronger in the aftermath of Sandy. That’s why today I am approving emergency regulations being proposed by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to help fast-track the rebuilding process,” said Christie. “By doing so, we’re helping residents and businesses who have endured so much, to get back on their feet while at the same time ensuring that rebuilding occurs as quickly as possible, without costly red tape slowing this process down for our families and small businesses. As New Jersey recovers from Sandy, utilizing the best available data provided in these FEMA maps will give our communities the ability to rebuild with the least possible risk from future storms moving forward.”
The regulations implemented on Jan. 24 by Christie and the state Department of Environmental Protection require residents and businesses to reconstruct, relocate and/or elevate buildings in flood hazard areas or face significant flood insurance premium increases.
While each property and rebuilding situation is unique, an example provided by FEMA illustrates the impact new standards can have on flood insurance rates. If a property owner is currently in an “A zone” at 4 feet below the base flood elevation and are reclassified as a higher threat “V zone” and take 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.
However, if the owner were to rebuild to the suggested base flood elevation and appropriate construction standards, the annual premium (phased in) would be approximately $7,000. If the resident rebuilds two feet above the base flood elevation with the construction standards for their new zone, the annual premium would be approximately $3,500.
“Unfortunately many of the structures that were hardest hit by Sandy were built decades ago, prior to the establishment of much more protective state and federal building elevation requirements,” said DEP Commissioner Bob Martin. “If homes had been built to these standards prior to Sandy, it is fair to say that property damage would have been significantly less. It is critical that we have the statewide elevation standard and a permit by rule process in place before large numbers of permit applications for rebuilding start coming in and reconstruction of our state begins in full force.”
“With flooding becoming more frequent and storm surges becoming worse the government and the public need this information to adequately prepare for storms and floods,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “Knowledge is power and without the proper information on flood areas you cannot make the right decision when it comes to development.”
For more information on the new maps, visit: http://www.region2coastal.com/sandy/abfe