WeatherBug® Your Weather Just Got Better™

Change Units: °F  | °C

Hurricane News


Strict Coastal Building Standards Become New Jersey Law

May 8, 2013

By The Press of Atlantic City (N.J.)

Strict new standards for rebuilding houses damaged during Hurricane Sandy are now state law.

The controversial new regulations, which require that houses that were substantially damaged during the storm be rebuilt to meet elevation standards set in Advisory Base Flood Elevation maps plus an additional foot, were published Monday in the New Jersey Register, the final step in the months-long process.

Local building officers are the ones who declare whether a building has been "substantially" damaged, which means the cost to repair is at least 50 percent of the building`s pre-storm value.

The advisory maps, which were released in December by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, added about 33,000 homes to coastal flood zones. The average increase for base flood elevations was between 2 feet and 4 feet, though some areas had increases of between 1 foot and 6 feet and some areas had no increase at all.

FEMA is expected to release preliminary flood maps this summer, which will likely contain significant changes to the velocity zones, FEMA and state officials have said. The agency released the advisory maps, which were essentially drafts, to help homeowners with rebuilding decisions.

Coming changes to the National Flood Insurance Program means that homeowners who don`t meet the new standards by the time the maps are formally adopted could see their annual flood insurance bills skyrocket to tens of thousands of dollars.

Gov. Chris Christie issued an emergency order in January setting the rebuilding standard, saying then the measure would eliminate uncertainty. However, homeowners along the entire New Jersey shore found themselves thrust into a new level of uncertainty because the maps, released by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, more than doubled the highest risk velocity zones. Houses in velocity zones must be built on piling foundations and must meet other strict building codes because the houses have to withstand 3-foot waves on top of a flood.

The new regulations also allow for "wet floodproofing" in commercial buildings only, which means the structure can withstand the force of floodwaters and is allowed to flood, while protecting utility and electrical equipment and minimizing damage, according to the rule published Monday. However, DEP staffers have said this method of meeting the new state standard could result in a very high flood insurance bill since the buildings would still flood.

(c)2013 The Press of Atlantic City (Pleasantville, N.J.)

What do you think of this story?
Click here for comments or suggestions.

Recent Stories:

Hurricane Learning Center

Hurricane Center

View maps and learn about hurricanes.

Hurricane Tracker

Follow the path of past major storms and hurricanes.

Hurricane Facts

What is a hurricane? How is it formed? Learn the facts.

Hurricane Safety

Do you have a disaster plan? Tips so you can be prepared.

Hurricane Names

Find out what Hurricane names are planned for this year.

Satellite Images

Watch time-lapse satellite images of recent storm activity around the world.

Hurricane Outlook

The latest hurricane news and headlines on hurricane season and active storms.

Hurricane Video

Learn more about the power of a Category 5 hurricane and the damage it can cause. Watch Video

Hurricane Now

Hurricane experiences and coverage from people reporting live on the scene. Watch Video

Stay Safe & Informed

New WeatherBug®Alert

WeatherBug Alert Tray Icon

Get severe weather alerts and your live local temperature when you're not on the web. Includes one-click access to additional severe weather information on WeatherBug.com. Learn More

Weather News

Other Top Weather Headlines

WeatherBug Featured Content

Green Living

Green Living

You too can help save our planet and put money back in your wallet. Learn how you can take the first steps to reduce your environmental impact, including driving green, easy ways you can conserve water, and energy saving tips. To learn more and discover the benefits of going green, visit WeatherBug’s green living section. More >

Sponsored Content