SEA BRIGHT: NEW FEMA MAPS OFFER ANSWERS

A pair of homes undergoing elevation on Center Street in Sea Bright earlier this month. (Click to enlarge)

By COLBY WILSON

Changes to the federal government’s flood risk maps are out, and the revisions are providing relief to anxious homeowners in Sea Bright and elsewhere along New Jersey’s coastline.

The new maps, officially unveiled Monday, show that the Federal Emergency Management Agency greatly reduced the scope of areas in the dreaded zone V, in which homes are said to be imperiled not only by flooding but wave action.

On Monday, Sea Bright Mayor Dina Long told redbankgreen the latest maps showed a “V” zone shift, and that it was good news for residents in her town.

“Nearly all of the homes west of Ocean Avenue were moved back to AE zones,” she said.

Residents and local officials raised concerns back in December, when the agency released its advisory maps, which vastly expanded the zone in coastal towns. Homes in those zones are required to elevate on pilings or higher foundations in order to be insurable against storm damage, and many homeowners complained their properties were included in the zones despite never having been significantly flooded.

Now, many Sea Bright residents won’t have to struggle with the expensive task of elevating their homes on pilings, Long said.

Still, Long said the changes raise some concerns.

“Based on these new maps, some people will not have to elevate their existing homes,” she said. “But if those homeowners received damage [from Hurricane Sandy], we want them to consider elevating, even if they don’t have to.”

FEMA said in a press release that the new elevation guidelines “reflect a more precise modeling analysis of current flood hazards, including wave analysis, and a more detailed study of other specific conditions that could affect flood risk.”

Long hopes that the latest maps will help residents answer the pending question of what to do with their homes.

“Forty percent of our population is still displaced. Most of the people aren’t even home yet because they’re still figuring out what to do with their homes and and how to pay for it,” she said. “These new maps help residents answer the question.”