Tough Decisions Ahead For Flood-Stricken Berkeley Township Residents
New FEMA Advisory-Based Flood Maps To Debut Next Week, Official Says
Demolition versus elevation?
Berkeley residents whose homes were ravaged by Hurricane Sandy may have a better idea of where they stand after the township determines the extent of the damage.
"Substantially damaged means the cost to make your necessary repairs will meet or exceed 50 percent of the value of the structure," according to the township website. "In Berkeley Township, we use the equalized assessed value to make that determination."
For example, a house assessed at $50,000 that has been damaged by flood, wind, fire, etc. would be considered "substantially damaged" if repairs total more than $24,999.99, the website states.
If the structure is more than 50 percent substantially damaged or repetitively damaged, the homeowner would be eligible for Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) coverage, which helps pay for the cost of complying with state or community floodplain management laws or ordinances from a flood event.
ICC coverage will help pay for the cost to elevate, flood-proof, demolish or relocate the building up to a maximum benefit of $30,000, according to the FEMA handbook "Answers to Questions About The NFIP."
Township Flood Mitigation Officer Ray Lalaberti and representatives from the township's engineering department will inspect each home and determine if it has been substantially damaged.
Substantially damaged homes located in a flood zone must be retrofitted to meet current flood ordinances and construction codes, the township website states.
Remedies may include:
• Elevating the dwelling
• Raising the crawl space
• Eliminating basements
• Installation of flood vents
• Elevating mechanical devices like hot water heaters and furnaces
New flood elevations coming
FEMA is also expected to release new advisory-based flood elevations next week, Deborah L. Farmer, FEMA Hazard Mitigation Insurance Specialist said. Farmer made the announcement recently at a "Town Hall" meeting for members of the Berkeley Shores Homeowners Association at H & M Potter School.
"We are in the process of issuing advisory-based flood elevations," she said. "We have most of the mapping done. What I can tell you is they are coming. If the community does adopt the new elevations, you have to comply."
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is only available in participating communities. Berkeley Township is a participating community.
The maps help property owners determine if they are in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA).
The term "cost to repair" includes the costs of all work to restore a damaged building to its pre-damage condition, the township website states.
"The determination is made assuming that you must hire someone to complete your repairs," according to the website. "If you are executing repairs yourself, or happen to have a spare hot water heater at your disposal, no credit is given for decreased cost."
The township has waived any fees associated with permits and inspections, but permits are still required.
A flood elevation certificate will be required for any permit application in a flood zone.
The following information is required:
• A list of building damages (without contents) accompanied by an estimated cost of repairs
• An estimate of the square footage of the inundated area, the depth of floodwater, and the floors affected, for example a crawlspace, finished basement, unfinished basement, first floor or sunken living area.
The township website has a wealth of storm-related information at twp.berkeley.nj.us/