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Rebuilding in Little Silver After Sandy: A Primer

Information you need to know as you attempt to navigate the ins and outs of insurance, FEMA and the borough.

There was a lot of information disseminated at this week’s meeting in Little Silver.

The Dec. 11 town hall-style gathering gave residents the opportunity to get answers to their rebuilding questions from Federal Emergency Management Agency representatives and borough officials. 

Here is an overview of facts given out based on questions asked during the two-and-a-half-hour meeting.

Rebuilding or renovating your storm damaged home? Here’s what you need to know. 

Information from the borough’s tax assessor, engineer/zoning officer/flood plains manager and fire subcode official: 

Greg Blash: Borough Engineer, Flood Plains Manager, Zoning Officer

Office Hours: Tuesdays 10 a.m. to noon, 732-842-0261

  • Applications fees are waived for homeowners rebuilding within the existing footprint of their house.
  • The borough recommends a 13-foot base elevation.
  • There is no deadline for rebuilding.
  • The permitted height of homes have been raised from 30 to 35 feet in Zones R2 and R3. 
  • Blash needs to inspect your home to determine whether it’s damaged over 50 percent and deemed "substantially damaged." 

Steven Walters, Borough Tax Assessor

Office Hours: Monday and Wednesday, 732-842-7039

  • Residents whose home sustained damage during Sandy and received a recent mailing from the borough need to complete and return the enclosed form, regardless of previous notification to the borough of storm damage.
  • Walters stressed he cannot address severely damaged homes until he receives that notification from homeowners.
  • Walters is in the office two days a week but says the phone number is 24/7. 

John Drucker, Borough Fire Subcode Official

  • Permits are not required for cosmetic repair, which includes drywall, shingles, siding, gutters, windows and ceilings.
  • Construction permits are required to perform structural work, including roof rafters, headers, chimneys, retaining walls and accessory structures (detached garages or sheds).
  • It’s recommended that electrical devices that were submerged (switches, circuit boards, heating and cooling units) be replaced within 90 days.
  • Electrical wiring that was submerged but undamaged does not need to be replaced.
  • Drucker says that restoring heat and power as soon as possible is critical for controlling the environment and mitigating further damage. 

Thinking of raising your house? Read on. 

FEMA representatives dissected the difference between those who will be required to raise their homes and those who are opting to do so to avoid future flooding.

  • Residents with homes that were damaged over 50 percent by Sandy, and have been declared “substantially damaged” by the borough, are required to elevate the habitable spaces of their homes and air conditioning units, hot water heaters, etc.
  • Residents required to comply are eligible for grants through FEMA.
  • Until  advisory base flood elevations are announced by FEMA, the borough recommends the base elevation for homes to be 13 feet.
  • If you choose to elevate, “basically you’re on your own (financially),” according to one FEMA rep on Tuesday, but there are loans available. 

How are you supposed to pay for this?

  • Increased Cost of Compliance Coverage (ICCC): According to the NFIP, "ICC coverage is in addition to the coverage you receive to repair flood damages; however, the total payout on a policy may not exceed $250,000 for residential buildings and $500,000 for non-residential buildings."
  • So if you had $200,000 worth of damage to your home, which was deemed substantially damaged, then you could get $30k to raise it, demolish or move it. You can read more about it here.
  • To get this substantial damage designation you need a letter from the town's engineer.

Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP):

  • "Flood insurance was not created to make you whole," said Christopher Toney of NIFP. "They just want to pay the policy limit."
  • But if your policy limit won't cover the cost to get your house raised out of the flood plain (or to have it demolished) you might still be eligible for the Hazard Mitigation Grant.

Small Business Administration Loan:

  • The SBA rep urged residents to apply for loans that they don’t have to use if not needed. The deadline to apply is the end of the month.
  • Loans are available up to 20 percent of damage incurred (so $200,000 for $1 million in damage).
  • There are no costs for SBA disaster loans and they are flexible, in that not all on the money needs to be drawn. 

Looking for a place to stay?

  • Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon said the best way to get yourself on the list for upcoming available long-term, temporary housing at Fort Monmouth is by visiting a local disaster recovery center.  
  • The closest is located at the Long Brach Fire Station, 199-205 Union Avenue, adds to the three other locations in the county at the Belmar Municipal Building, at 601 Main Street, the Union Beach Municipal Building at 650 Poole Avenue, and the Henry Hudson Trail Activity Center, at 945 Route 36 in Leonardo.

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