Gov. Christie: Initial Flood Maps Are 'Too Aggressive'
Governor provides update on rebuilding, with focus on flood maps and Blue Acres buyout, and plenty of anecdotes
The initial FEMA flood maps, which could create thousands more in insurance premiums and have residents raising their houses feet off the ground, are "too aggressive," said Gov. Christie at a town hall meeting today.
He addressed a packed crowd of officials and residents in the Hurricane Sandy damaged town of Manasquan. Christie returned to the complicated and controversial topic of what would happen with flood maps and how to rebuild the Jersey Shore.
"This initial map has been too aggressive," said Christie, referring to areas of land and the suggested heights property in those zones would be raised.
Christie's town hall event filled Manasquan High School, as the governor pushed for the adoption of "fair" base flood elevation maps in place of those adopted this winter.
As many towns and freeholders contest FEMA's current maps, the governor opened today's town hall with comments on the push to create a safer New Jersey, one where waterfront communities wouldn't face catastrophic damage like that seen after Hurricane Sandy.
"We'll have a continued fight to get the fairest flood maps in place," Christie said.
But balancing that with maps that make sense is a priority, Christie told a receptive crowd, a crowd that laughed at his personal anecdotes and applauded his comments of resolve.
After an opening speech focusing on Hurricane Sandy rebuilding in the long term, and some shared anecdotes about his mother-in-law, Gov. Christie begins to take audience questions at the town hall today in Manasquan.
Those audience questions were dominated by personal issues locals faced in trying to navigate post-Hurricane Sandy life. Residents from Bayville, Mantoloking, Brielle, and Manasquan asked "What do I do?" and shared their specific issues, looking to the governor for help.
In many cases, he answered with the specific names of cabinet members and departments that could help — the Department of Banking and Insurance, or the governor's Office of Constituent Services, for example.
For other answers, the governor gave his stance on the importance of dunes, and having them in place regardless of the "view."
Along the shore in places such as Long Beach Island and barrier island Toms River, some homeowners are disputing easements to build dunes.
"I’m not taking the property, but I’m not going to react kindly to people who complain about losing their view," he said of the dune easement issue. "We give up some of our own freedoms to make things better for society, I don’t think views of the ocean should be constitutionally excluded from that."
The governor closed with emphasis that the Jersey Shore will be open for summer 2013, maybe not just as it was, but with a show of heart.
"For many places in our state it will never be the same, but it could be better than before," he said.