For most shore residents, Hurricane Sandy was a once-in-a-lifetime event.
But for some, Sandy was just the latest storm to bring flood waters into their living rooms. Residents of flood-prone areas have had to rebuild, repair and face the reality that, with each inundation, their properties become more difficult to sell.
More important, repeated flood-insurance claims and federal-aid handouts to restore frequently flooded properties are an unfair and unwise use of limited resources.
So the state plan to spend $300 million in federal aid from Hurricane Sandy to buy up homes in flood-prone areas is welcome news.
Gov. Chris Christie announced last week that the state intends to buy 1,000 homes destroyed or damaged by Sandy and another 300 properties that have flooded repeatedly in the Passaic River basin. The voluntary buyouts would be handled through the state Blue Acres program.
The first areas targeted are Sayreville and South River in Middlesex County and the bayshore in Lawrence Township, Cumberland County. Willing homeowners could receive offers as early as July.
Delaware Bay enclaves such as Bay Point in Lawrence Township saw homes so damaged by Sandy that they had to be demolished. Even before the superstorm, residents faced increasing encroachment by bay waters.
Wisely, New Jersey's buyout program will focus on clusters of homes or entire neighborhoods. The greatest benefits will come from demolishing blocks of homes and returning the land to open spaces that can act as buffers to flood waters. Environmental groups have been urging this since Sandy hit.
Christie is hoping people in flood-ravaged neighborhoods can "use the gentle persuasion that New Jerseyans are known for" to convince reluctant sellers to go along with the program, but he said one or two holdouts will not disqualify other willing sellers.
Residents of other areas that could benefit from this program, such as Mystic Islands in Little Egg Harbor Township and the Mud City section of Stafford Township in Ocean County, would be wise to get together now and get organized. Interested property owners can get more information by calling 609-984-0500.
The program makes sense on many levels. The repeated cost of repairing flood-prone homes can sometimes exceed the value of properties. Those repairs cost us all in higher insurance rates and - since federal subsidies on flood insurance have not yet been phased out - higher taxes.
Buyouts would eliminate a situation in which residents and first responders are repeatedly put in danger.
And the plan also has the benefit of facing reality. As Christie told a crowd in Sayreville when he was announcing the plan, "There comes a moment when you just know when Mother Nature is getting the best of you."