Category Archives: Flood Maps

Pallone introduced FEMA legislation

I just heard from Rep. Frank Pallone’s office that the congressman introduced his legislation regarding the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) last night.

The bill includes three points:

1 — If passed, it would place a moratorium on the implementation of the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) until “all affected communities are individually briefed,” allowing residents to investigate the FIRM process.

2 — Also, it would provide tax credits to affected residents for the first five years after a new flood zone is revised to include their house.

3 — Thirdly, it would create a new program through FEMA that would provide grants to local communities. The grants would allow a municipality to develop projects that could improve its rating through FEMA’s Community Rating System (CRS).

I’m very glad Pallone finally got this bill on the table. Andrew Souvall, communications and policy director, told me the office has already begun rallying support for the bill.

I will follow its progress as closely as possible, considering Washington, D.C., is not exactly an easy drive.

Look for more on the bill and municipality’s feedback in the upcoming issue of The Courier.

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Filed under Andrew Souvall, Bayshore Flooding, Congressman Frank Pallone, FEMA, Flood Maps, U.S. Congress

From the experts: The skinny on flood insurance

During the FEMA Open House on Friday, June 13, there were two representatives from Weichert Insurance Agency, Morris Plains, looking to educate residents about flood insurance.

Unfortunately, Tim Varone and Frank Weber said they were asked to leave the open house by FEMA Regional Director Stephen Kempf, of Region II.

I interviewed Varone and asked him many questions regarding flood insurance. Because, if you will note, it seems FEMA is really good at pitching (er, mandating) flood insurance, yet the agency does not actually sell the product it so very adamantly insists the nation purchase.

Weber made an excellent point about flood insurance. He said, while FEMA may be the program, it does not know how to actually sell the program.

The first video of the two-part installment is Varone discussing the “grandfathering” of insurance rates. He says it behooves residents to take advantage of purchasing insurance now, before the zones actually change. When they do – and trust me, they will – the rates will increase, even the seemingly “low rates” offered now.

Varone also made it a point to distinguish certain flood hazard zone designations and what they mean to an insurance company. He said zones B, C and X are referred to as “preferred zones,” and could change to A zones on new Flood Insurance Rate Maps. The preferred zones typically mean a lower rate.

In the second video, Varone discusses why it is important to purchase flood insurance even if a resident owns his or her home. He says it will affect the resale value of a home when it comes time to sell.

Ultimately, and again, I visit this topic often – It comes down to money. Here’s FEMA, interrupting everyday life in the Bayshore with the crazy idea of mitigating risk. Here come the insurance agents: We all knew it wouldn’t be long before they trailed FEMA’s act.

Money money money. It’s just a fancy way of backing taxpayers – citizens who pay plenty of money into a government that never ceases to fail them, time and time again – of backing them working person into a corner.

Residents hear they need flood insurance if their property is located in a flood hazard zone, especially if they mortgage their homes. Ah, but, if you OWN your home, you’re not “mandated” to purchase flood insurance . . . HOWEVER, it is a good idea, considering policies are at their cheapest now.

Buy now, worry later

Isn’t that the economic theory society is trying to wean away from? Isn’t the United States in enough debt already?

Many people I have spoken to also make this point, a very valid one: Flood insurance does not help residents during an actual disaster. Perhaps U.S. Army Corps projects would? Who knows. They haven’t built any in a while, and I’m not sure the agency even knows what to do about the new “standards” FEMA has imposed.

“Grandfather” away, FEMA. Let’s hope there are residents left to tell this story to future generations. Maybe they’ll be sitting on the front porch having a drink, laughing about the “good ole’ days” when a silly federal agency almost drove them out of their homes.

Or maybe they’ll be like many Bayshore residents who lived for years in the very same towns they grew up in, but then had to leave because . . . Well, darn, because it just became too expensive to live.

Shocker.

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Filed under Bayshore Flooding, FEMA, Flood Maps, Monmouth County, Tim Varone, Weichert Insurance Agency

Video series – Congressman Pallone addressing FEMA during open house

During the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Open House today, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., addressed Stephen Kempf, FEMA Region II Director, as well as the entire Bayshore community.

The video below is the first in a series of six (6).

To view the rest of the series, click on the headline.

Part One (below) – “It comes down to individual homes” (Introduction)
Part Two – “Collective Questioning: ‘I’ve never had any flooding; what has changed?’ “
Part Three – “Is there something particular about the Bayshore?”
Part Four – “Shore protection: Would it make a difference?”
Part Five – “Katrina . . . “
Part Six – Pallone on his legislation: Moratorium, tax credits and grants

Update: All installments are uploaded. Thanks for your patience!

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Filed under Bayshore Flooding, Congressman Frank Pallone, FEMA, Flood Maps, National Flood Insurance Program, Stephen Kempf

Cocuzza the cartographer

Union Beach Councilman Charlie Cocuzza was on-hand during Assemblywoman Amy Handlin’s petition drive at borough hall on Tuesday.

Cocuzza seemed to be the resident “expert map decipherer,” as neither Handlin nor anyone from her office could help residents figure out their new flood zone according to the map.

Handlin was in Union Beach collecting signatures for her petition to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

She said if FEMA was going to provide “indecipherable” maps to the community, the agency should at least provide residents with answers and assistance.

Ironically, I don’t think Handlin has even bothered to look at the maps and examine them closely, considering she couldn’t – or chose not to – help residents read the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) on Tuesday.

Amy, if you’re going to “provide” the community with something indecipherable, make sure someone is “available” to “answer any questions” regarding it.

Good thing Charlie Cocuzza was there . . .

PHOTO: MAPS 101 The councilman helped many residents determine their potential flood zones on the newly updated FIRMs. (Melissa L. Gaffney)

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Filed under Amy Handlin, Charlie Cocuzza, FEMA, Flood Maps, Union Beach

Pallone will attempt to pass legislation where FEMA is concerned

Below is a press release that was forwarded to me.

Read with interest. These outcomes determine a lot where FEMA and the Bayshore are concerned.

My comments to follow in the next week.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Andrew Souvall, (202) 225-4671

April 25, 2008

PALLONE WILL INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO PUT MORATORIUM ON FEMA FLOOD PLAN

Long Branch, N.J. — U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) today announced plans to introduce legislation as early as next week that would place a moratorium on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) plans to expand flood zones. The New Jersey congressman is also calling on FEMA, as an agency, to implement the moratorium on its own for the Bayshore area.

Pallone voiced concern over a new Digital Flood Insurance Rate Map (DFIRM) that would expand the flood zone maps to more than 4,300 more homes in the Bayshore area of our district. The proposed plan has created a great deal of confusion in Hazlet, Keansburg, Middletown and Union Beach, and Pallone said, to date, FEMA has not been particularly helpful in addressing the residents’ concerns.

Under Pallone’s legislation, the national moratorium would remain in place until FEMA has developed an extensive public notification plan so that all affected communities are individually briefed and affected residents have the opportunity to investigate whether their homes were placed in the flood zones appropriately.

“FEMA’s expanded flood maps are causing confusion and frustration in the Bayshore area of my district,” Pallone said. “I would imagine that these new maps are causing similar feelings nationwide. At a time when families are struggling to make ends meet during a national recession, Congress must institute a moratorium on these expanded flood maps until FEMA has properly addressed serious questions that are rightfully being asked by affected homeowners.”

The New Jersey congressman said a moratorium is needed in light of several questions that he has asked FEMA that have gone unanswered. In an April 9th letter to FEMA Regional II Director Steve Kempf, Pallone asked the following questions: What formulas were used to calculate the expanded flood zones? What has changed in terms of the topography of the area to create such a large increase of the flood zone? Would the requirements for the flood zones change if there were infrastructure upgrades to the area in question? And, are there any provisions in current law that help property owners pay for flood insurance?

“The proposed maps will negatively affect thousands of my constituents who have not been properly briefed on many of the issues that I raised in my letter earlier this month,” Pallone continued. “FEMA needs to develop a better plan for reaching out to the public so that all affected residents have the opportunity to have their questions and concerns addressed.”

Pallone also plans to bring together the United States Army Corps of Engineers, and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to discuss ways to remove the area in question from the new flood zone.

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Filed under Congressman Frank Pallone, FEMA, Flood Map Fallout Series, Flood Maps, Floodplain Management, Floodwall, Hazlet, Keansburg, Keyport, Middletown

Assemblywoman Handlin to visit K’burg today

Assemblywoman Amy Handlin and her staff will be at the Point Comfort Fire House in Keansburg today from noon to 7 p.m. for what is being called a Citizen’s Service Day.

According to the APP, Handlin will be available to answer questions regarding FEMA’s proposed flood maps.

The borough is under the impression she will also be available to answer questions or address concerns regarding any state issue, including: Taxes, property tax rebates, education, health issues, consumer affairs issues, motor vehicle inquiries, environmental issues, notary public forms and small business issues, according to a flyer from Borough Hall.

Handlin will also launch a petition against the new flood insurance mandates during this time.

The fire house is located at 192 Carr Ave., Keansburg.

For more information, call Handlin’s office at (732) 787-1170.

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Filed under Amy Handlin, FEMA, Flood Maps, Floodplain Management, Keansburg, Point Comfort Fire House

Brightbill comments on Courier’s FEMA series: "Shocked and amazed"

Deputy Mayor Pamela Brightbill commented on my FEMA “Flood Map Fallout” series at the April 21 Middletown Committee Meeting.

To summarize, her comments relayed feelings of “shock” and “amazement” that any newspaper would want partisan comments on a local level where the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) are concerned.

Courier Publisher Jim Purcell blogged about it.

I don’t feel the need to say much else at this time other than look for Part 2 in The Courier this Thursday.

I got Republican comments, don’t you worry. People don’t realize it, but ears are always open and someone is always listening.

PHOTO: BEACHED Need I say more? (Melissa L. Gaffney)

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Filed under Deputy Mayor Pamela Brightbill, FEMA, FIRMs, Flood Map Fallout Series, Flood Maps, Middletown, The Courier