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SI Sandy Victims Charged for Unused Water

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Staten Island residents whose homes were devastated by Sandy say the city is charging them hundreds of dollars for water they haven’t used since the storm.

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Preliminary FEMA flood maps for New Jersey reduce high-risk zones

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New preliminary flood maps for Atlantic , Ocean and two northern New Jersey counties drastically reduce the high-risk zones that would have required many homes to be built on piling.
Overall, though, the flood hazard zones are still increasing from what has been in place for decades.
The “velocity,” or V zones – which would have required homes with flood insurance to prepare for 3-foot waves – were reduced by 80 percent in Atlantic County , said Bill McDonnell, FEMA’s hazard mitigation branch director, while Ocean’s V zones were reduced by 45 percent.
Gone are V zones that included large sections of Margate , Ventnor, Atlantic City and Brigantine, as well as sections of Little Egg Harbor, Tuckerton and Long Beach Island .
Preliminary maps for Monmouth and Hudson counties also were released Monday, with other counties, including Cape May and Cumberland , to come in the coming months.
McDonnell said that the state Department of Environmental Protection, which adopted the advisory maps shortly after they were initially released, will now be able to transition to the new preliminary maps because of language in the statute that refers to the “best available data.”
The maps are not yet effective, FEMA officials stressed, and municipalities won’t officially receive the preliminary maps until this summer. Municipalities are also asked to continue to provide information and data for any appeals.
Adoption is expected some time in 2014 or as late as 2015, FEMA said, and Flood Insurance Rate information will also be released soon.
FEMA also reminded residents and homeowners that the overall flood hazard zones will increase from the current, active flood maps, despite the proposed V zones being rolled back.
Many areas currently not in “A” flood zones – in which flooding could be expected during the worst “one percent” of storms, formerly described as the “100-year storm” – will be in flood hazard zones if the maps are adopted. The overall flood hazard zones increased by 6 percent in Ocean County , while exact numbers were not available in Atlantic County .
Homes in the A zone would have a recommendation of base elevations of 9 to 11 feet for homes with flood insurance, which is required for any homes with federally backed mortgages. New Jersey also has a minimum standard of one foot on top of minimum federal requirements, McDonnell said. But unlike in V zones, piling are not required to defend against waves, and building restrictions are not as stringent.
So why were the proposed V zones so much larger than they ended up being?
McDonnell said that FEMA was already in the process of revising its flood maps, many of which had not been changed since the 1980s, when Hurricane Sandy hit in late October. Even though its Overland Wave Analysis Study was not completed, “we provided the state of New Jersey with what we knew.”
That’s why New Jersey was unique in the nation in seeing its Advisory Base Flood Elevation maps – with its preliminary V zones – released so early, McDonnell said in defense of the decision.
“All indications showed that the risk would increased in the state of New Jersey ,” McDonnell said. “The risk was increasing and the elevation rising. If anyone wanted to rebuild during the recovery process, it would have been hard to do so without the advisory elevations and zones. It was prudent on our part to provide what we had to the state of New Jersey .”
The wave analysis study showed that there were more obstructions to waves in the back bays than originally estimated, especially in Atlantic County .
McDonnell advised those who had already built or rebuilt to V standards – and who now find themselves in a proposed A zone – that “they built to the standard recommended at that time, which was based on the best available data. They will have a more resilient structure and see a benefit in insurance premiums as a result of that.”
McDonnell also praised local officials for their input.
“‘Sometimes we had what we refer to as ‘heated discussions’, but all of it was productive,” he said. “Information we were able to exchange with them obviously proved to be (helpful). We do applaud local officials for their engagement.”
McDonnell made sure to add, however, that “We’re not changing the maps because of any political pressure, or any pressure at all.”
Local officials praised both FEMA and the local engineers and zoning officials, including the Downbeach-based Coastal Coalition, who spearheaded the efforts to change the maps.
“The whole town had been under a V zone, and now they rolled it back,” said Little Egg Harbor Assistant Administrator Mike Fromosky, though officials had not thoroughly examined the maps yet. “Just after a cursory inspection, we don’t have any residents in the V zone anymore.”
Brigantine Mayor Phil Guenther said that for residents, “this has been an incredible relief for them, and a reduction of anxiety,” Guenther said. “Those suffering significant damage now have a clear message on how to rebuild.” Guenther said.
The city cautioned those homeowners who were anxious to rebuild that they should wait until these new maps came out, he said, and he now expects an increase building permit requests.
As to those who already put their homes on the pilings required in a V zone, “that was a personal decision they made because they wanted to move as quickly as possible to get into their home,” he said. “But we did counsel people to wait.”
To see the maps
Preliminary maps can be viewed at http://fema.maps.arcgis.com/home/webmap/viewer.html?webmap=2f0a884bfb434d76af8c15c26541a545
Residents can search where their property is in the new preliminary flood maps at http://www.region2coastal.com/sandy/table .

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RECOVERY CENTERS HURRICANE SANDY

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Where you need to go to apply for grant money:

Ocean County
750 Vassar Ave
Lakewood Township

Atlantic County
500 Scarborough Drive
Egg Harbor Township

 Cape May County
3860 Bayshore Road
Suite 5
Lower Township

For Monmouth county and north go to http://www.renewjerseystronger.org/
or call 855-726-3946

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Sandy Recovery Centers Open to Administer Grants

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Where to go for help in person

South Jersey ’s Recovery Centers open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily:
Atlantic County :
500 Scarborough Drive , Egg Harbor Township
Cape May County:
3860 Bayshore Road, Suite 5 , North Cape May
Ocean County :
750 Vassar Ave. , Lakewood
Other contacts:
To apply for grants by phone, call 855-726-3946.
To apply for grants online, go to www.renewjerseystronger.org.

For more information on buyouts through the Blue Acres program, call 609-984-0500.
Shore residents whose houses were damaged during Hurricane Sandy now can apply for grants in person.
The Department of Community Affairs opened nine recovery centers Saturday throughout the state to act ultimately as hubs for multiple types of state-run recovery programs.
The centers will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week.
While residents can apply online or by phone for two types of grants that are part of the $60 billion federal aid package Congress approved in January, the agency set up the centers to help residents who have questions or want to conduct the process in person, DCA Commissioner Richard Constable said. Applicants do not need to visit the centers to apply.
Ultimately, residents will be able to go to these centers for various other programs that either have been announced or will be in the coming future, Constable said in an interview with The Press of Atlantic City last month.

****Among the grants that residents may apply for right now is up to $150,000 to rebuild or elevate storm-damaged houses. The grant is designed to fill in financial gaps between insurance and other aid.
The majority of the money is marked for low- to moderate-income households. In Atlantic and Cape May counties, the threshold for a four-person household is $69,984. In Ocean County , the threshold is $91,391.
Homeowners also may apply as long as the total annual household income is less than $250,000, but fewer grants will be available. Houses must have been a primary residence when Sandy hit Oct. 29, and the homeowner must have registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The DCA estimates the average grant award will be about $100,000. Those who qualify but are not selected will be put on a priority list for future funding.

****The other grant homeowners can apply for is $10,000 to help resettle in storm-damaged communities, or at least the county of residence before Sandy . The idea behind this grant, according to the plan approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, is to stabilize neighborhoods and encourage homeowners to stay.
The money can be used for any non-construction costs, including paying for future flood insurance premiums, which are expected to increase due to new flood maps that will likely be adopted within 18 months to 2 years, according to the plan.

The state has set a priority application deadline of June 30, but applications received after that deadline will continue to be processed. Those with the most need still will be prioritized, the DCA said.
The Department of Environmental Protection continues to put in place its vastly expanded Blue Acres program, which will spend $300 million to buy out storm-damaged and flood-prone houses.
DEP spokesman Larry Hajna said that caseworkers already are contacting residents in two Middlesex County towns, South River and Sayreville , to start the buyout process as the agency continues to develop the program.
As grant applications have opened, the state also is warning of scams. The DCA said last week a resident who had applied for a housing assistance grant was contacted through a phone call and told they had won a grant through the “Renewjerseystronger Foundation.” The resident was told they needed to pay a fee to be eligible.
There are no fees to apply for authentic public grants. Anyone who has been contacted by someone requesting a fee regarding the grant process is asked to call the New Jersey Attorney General’s Statewide Sandy Fraud Working Group at 855-726-3939 or visit http://www.stopsandyfraud.org/.

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Insurance Companies Stingy on Payouts?

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Oklahoma State Insurance Commissioner John Doak and Merlin Law Group President Chip Merlin on the challenges homeowners face when trying to claim insurance payouts.

http://www.foxbusiness.com/on-air/willis-report/videos#p/157870/v/2416421845001

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Hurricane Sandy Victims Grants to Rebuild

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Hurricane Sandy victims can soon apply for grants to rebuild, help pay insurance premium increases

Article By SARAH WATSON

“Shore homeowners hoping for help to raise or rebuild houses damaged during Hurricane Sandy can begin applying for the various programs Friday. At first, the grant applications will be taken over the phone at 1-855-726-3946 or online at www.sandyhelp.nj.gov.”
Read the article :
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