Get on the list. Now.
That was the advice FEMA Hazard Mitigation Specialist Jillian Stokley had for Berkeley storm victims at an informational session last night at the Berkeley Township Elementary School.
Stokley had a special connection with the hundreds of displaced residents who attended the meeting.
"Until recently, I lived in South Seaside Park," she told the crowd. "But not now."
Funds for FEMA's Hazard Mitigation program are limited. Municipalities throughout the state will compete against each other for the federal funding used for elevation, demolition or acquisition, she said.
The program is separate from the National Flood Insurance Program's Increased Cost of Compensation program, which pays up to $30,000 to elevate homes that have been deemed more than 50 percent damaged from Superstorm Sandy.
Only municipalities can apply to be considered for the federal Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. Residents must inform the township if they want to be considered for the funding.
"The township must apply on your behalf," she said told the audience..
The township's letter of intent is sent to the Ocean County Office of Emergency Management, which in turns sends it on to the state Office of Emergency Management. The state OEM makes the final determination about which communities will receive the federal funds, then sends the recommendations on to FEMA, she said.
But the funds are limited, Stokley said.
"The amount of need is a lot greater than the amount of the funding," she said.
Residents who are eligible for the ICC program can also ask to be considered for Hazard Mitigation grant money to help with the cost of elevating their homes, if the cost exceeds the maximum ICC grant of $30,000.
But if homeowners want the Hazard Mitigation funds and are deemed eligible, they should delay raising their homes until they receive the money, Stokley said.
"If you have already elevated, you've excluded yourself from the program," she said.