With New Flood Maps, NY, NJ Moves to Ease Rebuilding

By Brian Thompson
|  Thursday, Jan 31, 2013  |  Updated 8:06 PM EDT
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Barely a week after Governor Christie endorsed FEMA's new advisory flood maps, one New Jersey mayor is telling some in his town to wait before rebuilding. In fact, a movement is underway to force FEMA to make serious changes to those maps.  New Jersey reporter Brian Thompson has exclusive details on this developing story.

NBC 4 New York

Barely a week after Governor Christie endorsed FEMA's new advisory flood maps, one New Jersey mayor is telling some in his town to wait before rebuilding. In fact, a movement is underway to force FEMA to make serious changes to those maps. New Jersey reporter Brian Thompson has exclusive details on this developing story.

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Mayors in New York and New Jersey are taking steps to resolve a dilemma for owners of storm-damaged properties.

In New York City, new flood maps suggest homeowners rebuild higher, but current zoning might not allow that.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed an order Thursday suspending zoning height limits for property owners rebuilding after Sandy. They'd have to build according to the new flood levels. There are some other restrictions.

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FEMA Unveils New NYC Flood Zone Maps

It will take some people years to recover from the damage that Sandy did to their homes and businesses. In part, it is because some of them were not in flood zones when the storm hit, but FEMA wants to make sure that doesn't happen again. Brynn Gingras has more on the proposed changes that will add thousands more New York City buildings in those areas.

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The Federal Emergency Management Agency released preliminary new flood maps Monday for part of the city. They double the number of properties in flood zones. Many buildings already in such zones might have to be raised to avoid flooding in strong storms.

The city expects to update zoning laws to reflect the new maps, but that could take years.

Bloomberg's order aims to guide rebuilding in the meantime.

In New Jersey, Brick Mayor Stephan Acropolis is suggesting some homeowners wait before rebuilding because he's concerned the FEMA flood zone map puts too many homes in the high-velocity zone -- or "V" zone -- where waves from opens bodies of water like the Barnegat Bay can knock homes off their foundations.

"I would wait," said Acropolis, whose own son has a home he believes should be in the less restrictive and less expensive "A" zone. 

"V" zone homes being rebuilt need to go up higher, and on pilings, which amounts to a much more expensive process.

"We shouldn't have to be in a 'V' zone," said Tom Tennis, who has lived in his bayfront home for 35 years. 

Tennis questioned even having some homes facing open water getting the "V" designation, noting he's never had structral damage from flooding. 

Acropolis said he has talked with FEMA map makers and believes some of the marginal "V" zone homes will be changed to "A" zone when the final maps come out in late summer. That's why he's suggesting people wait to make repairs until then, if they can. 

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At the same time, a group calling itself "Save Our Community 2013" has formed to try to get Governor Christie and Senators Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez to pressure FEMA to quickly change many of those "V" zone homes to "A" zone, according to founder Ron Jampel. 

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