New Jersey is adopting advisory flood maps released last month by the federal government to guide rebuilding following Superstorm Sandy, putting into effect tougher standards for reconstruction that will in some cases force homeowners and businesses to relocate or build at higher elevations, Gov. Chris Christie announced Thursday.
New Jerseyans in flood zones who choose not to follow the new guidelines risk having to pay greatly higher insurance premiums, the governor warned, partly as a result of federal reforms intended to make rates better reflect risk.
At the same time, Christie said he believes there are “very few places” where New Jerseyans won’t be able to rebuild.
The advisory maps show the risk of flooding is much greater than was projected when the current maps come out in the 1980s. They also expand the area where forceful waves are considered a risk.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency expects to take 18 to 24 months to make official its new maps, which are used to set insurance premiums.
Christie said it didn’t make sense to use old maps to guide New Jersey’s rebuilding or wait for FEMA to formally adopt its new guidelines.
“It is absolutely critical that we take this opportunity to rebuild New Jersey smarter and stronger in the aftermath of Sandy,” Christie said.
Sandy left New Jersey with an estimated $37 billion in damages and mitigation costs.
By adopting the advisory maps immediately as the state standard, the state will ensure that coastal communities are rebuilt using the best elevation guidelines possible and that homes and businesses are more resilient in future storms, the governor said.
Property owners who rebuild according to the new state guidelines will not have to apply for individual flood hazard permits, saving them at least $500 in permit fees plus the design and engineering costs associated with the applications, Christie said.
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