Township Officials Blast New FEMA Advisory Flood Elevation Guidelines, Reimbursement Delays
Amato, council members say suggested elevations inappropriate in some areas of town
That pretty much sums up the reaction of Mayor Carmen F. Amato Jr. and some Township Council members to the Federal Emergency Management Agency's recently-released advisory base flood elevations guidelines.
"Hopefully FEMA will reduce the V zones to A zones," Amato said. "We had a storm that is one in 300 years. It's not fair to force our residents to rebuild to V zones, or face astronomical flood insurance costs. We are going to continue to voice our opposition."
"To take a house that got two feet of water and have to raise it, slide it over, put pilings underneath, slide it back - that's a $50,000 hit," Council President James J. Byrnes said.
Amato and Byrnes object to some sections of Berkeley Shores, Glen Cove and South Seaside Park being tagged as V zones - areas that are subject to one to three-foot waves.
"To be in the same flood zone here in Berkeley Township as in the Outer Banks, I think that is very off," Amato said.
Amato was at the press conference in Seaside Heights last week when Gov. Chris Christie said the state would adopt the advisory base flood guidelines now, so the rebuilding could begin.
"I know he's not happy with the maps," Amato said of Christie. "We are going to make sure our voices are heard."
Clew Court resident Bob Kaiser also questioned the guidelines. His lagoon home did not take on water during the storm.
The Township Council recently adopted an ordinance approving more than $6 million in emergency appropriations to deal with damage costs from Superstorm Sandy. The paperwork was filed and Amato expected at least 75 percent reimbursement and hopes for 90 percent.
"We don't really have a lot of faith in when we will see that money," Amato said at the Jan. 28 Township Council meeting.
How much has Berkeley received so far?
"Not a penny," Township Administrator Frederick Ebenau said after the Jan. 28 Township Council meeting. "We want to try and get as much of that back as possible, to lessen the burden of the $6 million on our homeowners."
Both Amato and Township Council President James J. Byrnes also said they had talked to many homeowners who still have not received any flood insurance payments.
"I don't know who is getting the money," Amato said. "That's a travesty. It's a travesty. We've got to get the money to the people. This is the United States of America, for crying out loud. We will continue to beat the drums."
"It's been three months and nobody has really settled with their flood insurance yet," said Byrnes, who lost his Glen Cove home to Sandy. "It's crazy."