I'm a homeowner with a relatively new mortgage who sustained significant damage in Hurricane Sandy. As it stands now, I have been given the option to come up with $100,000 to raise my home or face the possibility of unaffordable flood-insurance premiums, which could go up to as much as $31,000 annually, thereby making it impossible for a person of my means to live here.
This is the fate for the majority of the waterfront homeowners in my community. In a town replete with short-sale properties, foreclosed properties and people eking out their monthly mortgage payments, does coming up with a small fortune at a moment's notice to raise one's home seem like a viable option?
Surely the powers that be know that it is not, and the outcome would amount to a mass exodus of middle- to low-income residents. One can only assume that is exactly the plan - to turn these little waterfront towns into more affluent areas like Long Beach Island at the expense of the people who have been here for years. Furthermore, if people want to sell, they will do so at a loss because of having to factor the increased cost of compliance into the sales price.
In a nutshell, we are forced to come up with money we don't have or sell our home at a fire sale-like price and leave. I defy anyone reading this to explain how this is different from extortion.
Little Egg Harbor Township
Towns can get FEMA
to downgrade V zones
Most of the objectives of the new Federal Emergency Management Agency floodplain maps arise from the so-called velocity zones. These zones require the most stringent regulations regarding a structure's construction and elevation. But velocity zones can be downgraded if a municipality has the opportunity to provide a barrier-type device to divert or stop heavy wave action. Bulkheads, dunes, groins, seawalls and jetties are examples. If wind, tide and waves can be calmed by such a device, the height restrictions and insurance rates can drastically change behind these structures.
FEMA has a mitigation-planning process and money available for municipalities to reduce the possible damage in the future. I have used this plan in the past. Other mayors and elected officials should look into FEMA mitigation planning. We all can both rebuild stronger and not lose ratable tax dollars on shore-front properties.
Some homeowners already faced with a mortgage and high flood-insurance premiums cannot afford to rebuild and will walk away from their life's savings invested in a home by the water. The tax-ratable loss will be devastating to all of us if we cannot rebuild due to velocity zones.
GARY B. GIBERSON