Christie sets rebuilding rules; hard choices ahead

Posted: January 25, 2013

Gov. Christie announced Thursday that New Jersey would adopt the Federal Emergency Management Agency's controversial floodplain maps, effectively requiring a large swath of coastal homeowners to raise their homes to protect against future storms.

For weeks those who lost their homes in Hurricane Sandy have been struggling to figure out whether to follow the new maps, which are not expected to be formally certified by FEMA for up to two years.

"There's no perfect solution to this problem, but if we wait, all we're doing is delaying New Jersey's recovery," Christie said in Seaside Heights, one of the areas hardest hit by the storm. "Waiting 18-24 months is not acceptable. Missing three summers at the Jersey shore, sorry, not going to happen."

The announcement Thursday will mean any property that suffered damages greater than half the value of the home during Sandy will have to elevate to FEMA's base flood elevations in order to rebuild.

For those who suffered less damage or no damage at all, meeting the new standards will be optional, but they would face higher insurance premiums that Christie said could reach 10 times what they're currently paying.

The cost of elevating a home can run $50,000, and many local officials are worried that means many middle-income families will not be able to rebuild.

Christie said the federal disaster relief bill, which is expected to be signed into law by President Obama later today, would provide funds to help those families. But he conceded some might have to leave the shore.

"People are going to have to make some tough decisions," he said.

Contact James Osborne at 856-779-3876 or or follow on Twitter @osborneja.


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