Flood Mitigation Buy-out Program Benefits NJ Flood Victims

The effects of 2011’s Hurricane Irene are still being felt by homeowners in the Morris County region of New Jersey. Recently though, a Flood Mitigation Program was implemented. This innovative program will work toward purchasing “flood-prone residential properties and converting them to permanently preserved open space.” This program is touted as the first of its kind to be undertaken at a county level and will “assist municipalities in the acquisition of residential properties only.” The program also requires the expansion of the flood plain mitigation efforts under the county’s open space initiative.

The initial projections are that the program will be funded by $16 million in unencumbered funds that have been allocated to the Morris County Agriculture Development Board. Funding going forward for this program will need to be determined on an annual basis. Because the county has seen increases in flooding to the Morris County area, exacerbated by Hurricane Irene in 2011, “Developed areas, subject to recurrent flooding pose a serious threat to the public’s health, safety and general welfare…a key management strategy for flood control involves the purchase and removal of frequently flooded housing within the flood plain.”

The objectives of the open space program are to mitigate the loss of life and property in the flood prone areas. This will also help lower costs for the government and help provide funds for a new beginning for those homeowners living in flood-prone areas.

Municipalities seeking relief under the Flood Mitigation Program will be required to complete a grant application, the applications will be reviewed and take into consideration how many residences have experienced “severe, repeated flooding or (in municipalities) that have had home with more than 50% damage in a single flood event. The grants can be applied for, and will be reviewed, throughout the year. The grant applications need to encompass a long-term acquisition plan by the municipalities as a way to discourage “checkerboard” purchases within neighborhoods. The program will not cover the cost for home elevation, demolition or other non-acquisition mitigation options.

Homeowners that purchase homes in known flood plains will be required by their mortgage holder to purchase flood insurance. Flood insurance programs are provided through local insurance agencies. You can click here for more information on flood insurance, what it covers, and how Donnelly & Sproul can help.