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FEMA Advisory Maps Could Change Before Final Adoption, Official Says

Homeowners urged to research, proceed with caution before rebuilding

Residents whose homes were not more than 50 percent damaged by Superstorm Sandy may not have to raise their homes to meet FEMA's new base flood elevation guidelines.

But depending on which "zone" they are in, they may pay substantially more in flood insurance premiums in the coming years.

"If you are in an A zone or V zone, you don't have to lift your house unless you have more than 50 percent damage," Township Planner James Oris said at the Jan. 3 reorganization meeting. "You will be impacted by flood insurance rates."

FEMA's advisory base flood elevations - issued after Superstorm Sandy struck - are just that - advisories, Oris said.

"Those numbers could go up or down," he said.

The current Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) were developed more than 25 years ago. The new advisories will be based on updated coastal flood analyses and data compared to coastal elevations show on the current FIRMs, according to FEMA.

New "Advisory Base Flood Elevations" are posted to this interactive map. More resources are available on FEMA's ABFE page for New Jersey and New York.

The township - which participates in the National Flood Insurance Program - will adopt the new advisory base flood elevations after township professionals have reviewed the new numbers, Mayor Carmen F. Amato Jr. has said.

Homeowners who have not already done so should contact the township Building Department or Engineer's office for an inspection to determine if their houses are have more than 50 percent damage, Township Council President James J. Brynes said.

"If it's (damage) more than 50 percent of the value of the structure, you have to make that structure compliant," he said.

Demolition option

Unfortunately, there are roughly 40 homes in Berkeley that are beyond saving and must be demolished, unless homeowners notify the township they want to rebuild, Township Engineer Alan Dittenhofer said after the meeting.

Council members unanimously passed a resolution authorizing the county to demolish uninhabitable homes and remove private and commercial debris under a shared services contract for debris removal.

Even if a home has been deemed uninhabitable and bears a red sticker, residents can contact the Building Department ask for an extension, if they want to rebuild, Dittenhofer said.

If homeowners want the home demolished, they must sign a waiver giving Ashbritt - the debris removal firm contracted by the county - permission enter the property and do the work, Amato said.

Township officials plan to hold another informational session on rebuilding in mid-January. Berkeley Patch will post the date as soon as it becomes available.

Constance Eves January 06, 2013 at 11:06 PM
It would be very very helpful if dates were included with the stories written on this web site. Connie Eves cnekz301@yahoo.com Thanks for all your information.
foggyworld January 07, 2013 at 02:34 PM
I looked at the Fema maps when they came out and found a problem on the map for Good Luck Point. I did write to Fema to ask them to correct things and was later told by them that they only processed information that was given to them by Berkeley Township. As soon as I get time I have to go to Town Hall and find whomever transmitted the information to see if I can get it clarifed. A relatively non important issue such as leaving the name of a street off was fixed but the more important issue is on my pile of To Do things.

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