Well, this didn't take long. The push back against the Federal Emergency Management Agency's new advisory flood-elevation maps has begun.
At a town hall meeting on the new maps in Brigantine last week, Mayor Phil Guenther said, "This could have the effect of decimating the community in Brigantine. ... We can't accept what's being proposed."
What is, in fact, being proposed is a major change for coastal areas. That's for sure.
The maps reclassify wide swaths of beach towns as "velocity zones," where new structures will have to be built with 12- to 13-foot base elevations (up from 9 to 11 feet in the so-called A zones) and must be able to withstand 3-foot waves in addition to flood waters. Flood insurance rates will be higher in these zones - high enough that some people in older low-lying bungalows may no longer be able to afford their houses at the shore.
The new FEMA maps are preliminary. Final maps are not expected until next summer. And the maps are only recommendations. But the state will likely incorporate them into Coastal Area Facilities Review Act rules. And towns that don't incorporate the FEMA maps into their building codes would face the possibility of getting less federal aid after the next storm.
So change is coming. The look of the Jersey Shore is going to be transformed - think Hatteras, N.C. More homes are going to have to be built up on piling, including in areas seemingly far from the bay or ocean.
But the idea is to better protect people and their property - and to make the National Flood Insurance Program more solvent.
The maps may not be perfect. We have no problem with local municipal officials reviewing them carefully before incorporating the new elevation levels into building codes. And we don't mean to single out Guenther.
But residents and officials in shore towns are going to have to acknowledge that change is necessary.
These new maps were in the works well before Sandy hit the coast. They don't even take into account rising sea levels - or the damage from Sandy.
The issue is that the National Flood Insurance Program cannot continue to subsidize coastal living with borrowed billions. Indeed, some in Congress are already balking at the $60.4 billion in emergency aid requested for states hit by Sandy.
At the very least, people on the Jersey Shore are going to have to accept a new look and the reality that these new FEMA flood maps represent.