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FEMA Mapping DEP Hearing Tonight

Date : Thu, 11 Apr 2013 11:44:00 -0400

For Immediate Release
March 7, 2013 Contact Jeff Tittel, 609-558-9100

FEMA Mapping Adoption Must Go Farther Tonight the DEP will hold a public meeting in Long Branch on Governor Christie's Emergency Order adopting the FEMA advisory base flood maps.The maps are being adopted into the Flood Hazard Area regulations for elevation data.The Emergency Order adopting the maps only applies to coastal areas, not inland, and does not require DEP to adopt the mapping for its regulatory programs.The Emergency Order applies only to elevation and rebuilding codes.Even though the maps do not contain the latest flood information from Hurricane Sandy and do not include sea level rise, the attacks on the maps are wrong.We need accurate data and mapping as we rebuild our shore communities to keep people out of harm's way in the future, and the FEMA maps are a key guiding document. We must not rush to rebuild before the science and planning is in place to protect people, infrastructure, and investments from the next storm.We must not let politics get in the way of rebuilding our coast better and more resilient.

"The Governor rushed to adopt these FEMA maps and move forward with rebuilding before all the mapping has been done and models have been checked because he is more in a rush to look good in an election year than waiting for the science and modeling to be right.This is about political science not real science," *said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. * Some of the areas in the V zone in the Bayshore Area may change as more information comes in and better modeling is done.Flood zones and elevations could increase in many areas since Hurricane Sandy did not bring heavy inland rainfall.In the future flood waters coming downstream could end up causing additional flooding in areas where tidal surges come in. Governor Christie is not requiring the DEP to adopt the maps into their regulatory programs.Without this integration, homeowners could choose not to conform with the standards and pay higher insurance premiums.We all end up paying higher insurance premiums and put more people in harm's way.This leaves families vulnerable to the next storm and could jeopardize compensation families receive from FEMA.Until the mapping is adopted into the DEP regulatory programs, the agency can give out development approvals in areas that flood under FEMA without elevation protections. The proposed amendments do not include inland areas that experienced major flooding in Hurricane Sandy such as Sayerville and the Meadowlands or areas that traditionally flood such as along the Passaic and Raritan Rivers.Besides the coast, all other counties will still use the old maps that have not been updated in some cases since 1980. The Governor has said if homeowners do not adhere to the standards, the financial risk will be on the homeowners through higher insurance premiums, but the rest of the state will be paying for it too.As they rebuild in vulnerable areas, they increase the risk of insurance pools around the state.The taxpayers are paying for the rebuilding through FEMA and without standards that money will wash to sea with the next storm and they will expect more federal funding to rebuild again.If their house gets destroyed the bill is on the taxpayers as well as costs for any damage to adjoining properties.

New Jersey has not fully updated its FEMA flood mapping since 1980 as these updates will limit development in flood prone areas.FEMA is currently revising mapping for our state's coastal communities based on the impacts of Hurricane Sandy and those maps should be available this summer.The new FEMA maps will be based on Hurricane Sandy but do not take into account sea level rise or the impacts of a Category three Hurricane which can hit New Jersey.

"The problem with the FEMA mapping is that it is like driving down the highway at 80 miles an hour and only looking in the rearview mirror.The mapping does not take into consideration sea level rise and future storm surges- without including that data we are still going to be putting people and property at risk," said Jeff Tittel, The Administration has opposed updating the flood mapping as it would limit development in flood prone areas.There are regulatory programs that limit develop in flood prone or flood hazard areas including Water Quality Planning, Flood Hazard Area, storm water and CAFRA coastal development rules. By not adopting the updates FEMA maps, these regulations are based on outdated maps that do not show the increase in flooding in New Jersey and more flood prone property. By not adopting these maps we are promoting overdevelopment in areas that flood, putting people and property in harms ways. New Jersey is the only state in the region not doing moving forward with adaptation planning.We have the mapping and science, but we are ignoring it.Governor Christie eliminated the Office of Climate Change within in DEP and has undone efforts under previous administrations to implement hazard planning. In 2005 Rutgers prepared mapping of our coast identifying the most vulnerable areas.The state DEP Division of Coastal Resources had not only mapped vulnerabilities to sea level rise and storm surges but had authorized studies to the Sea Grant Consortium on the Delaware Bay and were working on adaptation and mitigation planning for coastal communities.The state's 309 report under the Coastal Zone Management Act raised significant warnings of the vulnerabilities of our coastal areas to storm surges.We had all this information prepared by the state warning us that this would happen and under Governor Christie those adaptation and mitigation plans were shelved. This administration is undoing efforts to limit greenhouse gas pollution as well.New Jersey passed the Global Warming Response Act in 2007, but Governor Christie has stopped any work in implementing the Act.Governor Christie pulled New Jersey from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) in 2011.The RGGI program funded the Office of Climate Change and the adaptation and hazard planning work being done around the state, including reports and mapping.

"Sandy was a disaster but not a surprise- we did studies in the past all showing what would happen during an event like Sandy.Not only did we ignore those studies, Gov. Christie ended the programs that would help with adaptation and mitigation," said Jeff Tittel. Public Hearing details: Thursday, March 7, 2013, 5:30 P.M. City of Long Branch Municipal Building Council Chambers 344 Broadway, 2nd Floor Long Branch, NJ 07740

Kate Millsaps
Conservation Program Coordinator
NJ Chapter of the Sierra Club
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Received on 2013-04-11 08:44:00

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