With Reluctance, Point Boro Adopts Flood Maps
Borough officials say the move is necessary to get residents back into their homes.
Point Pleasant Borough's council is adamant about its position.
The advisory flood maps issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the same maps that are likely to become the official flood maps of the National Flood Insurance Program, are simply wrong in the way many of the V flood zones are delineated, they say.
And though their resolve to continue to fight against the flood zone maps remains strong, council adopted FEMA's advisory blood maps Tuesday night anyway.
The move is a temporary compromise, officials said Tuesday night, and was made to help residents get back into their homes and to secure available funding to elevate their properties and avoid the potentially high insurance costs associated with the new flood maps.
"How can we adopt something we don't believe in?" Point Engineer Ernie Peters asked rhetorically during a brief address to the crowd. "It may be counter intuitive, but it's the law.
"While I don't like the pill...it's probably a pill we'll have to swallow."
Like many shore municipalities facing significant - possibly economically devastating - map changes, Point Borough is eager to see the flood maps reviewed and, if it has its way, corrected to fit what they believe is a more accurate representation of the town's flood zones.
In order for its residents to qualify for Increased Cost of Compliance, or ICC, funding used to elevate their homes to or above the new flood zones, however, towns are required to adopt the advisory maps.
Though the town would like the maps to be reviewed, the prospect of denying its residents access to necessary funding to raise their homes was not something it was willing to do.
Instead, council asked residents to fix their homes, carry on as usual and gather funds as they become available as a precaution for a future flood map fight it might not win.
The flood maps, or Advisory Base Flood Elevation maps, were released shortly after Hurricane Sandy devastated the New Jersey coast in late October. The maps are intended to illustrate zones prone to flooding during once-a-century storms, like Sandy, and how high properties should be elevated to avoid flood damage.
The updated maps were developed with advanced scientific data, a better understanding of topography and weather, and consideration for how a historic storm, like Hurricane Katrina, could wreck havoc on a coastline.
The problem with the maps, some say, is that they fail to factor in data from Sandy, the exact kind of storm they're designed to warn against.
In Point Borough, residents say the maps don't reflect reality. Some residents who were previously in non-flood zones and didn't suffer flooding during Sandy now find themselves in flood-prone zones A and V.
Other residents are concerned less with the zones than they are the elevations, which will require them to raise their homes several feet or else face the possibility of flood insurance premiums as high as $30,000 a year.
Council adopted the new maps and flood zones but offered a promise to continue the fight.
Councilwoman Toni DePaola said she's hopeful that the flood maps will change. Following a meeting with Ocean County officials, DePaola said FEMA officials have said that the maps could be reviewed and that the possibility for change does exist, though to what extent remains unknown. New flood maps could come out later this year, possibly as early as August, she said.
Of course FEMA may decide the maps are accurate and not change a thing.
Until then, the flood map fight is on hold.