U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey is urging Congress to pass legislation that would prevent flood insurance at primary residences from going up until FEMA completes an affordability study.
Homeowners trying to recover from Sandy are facing a man-made disaster in the form of skyrocketing flood insurance premiums, Menendez said.
Meg Kelleher’s home in Brick Township was flooded by Sandy. She now pays $850 a year for flood insurance and would not be able to afford it if premiums rise into the thousands.
“I’m very worried because I don’t want to go without insurance, but I’m afraid it’s what I’m going to have to do,” Kelleher said. “I’d probably have to sell the house, but right now houses are not selling and I would probably get one-third the price I would have gotten before the storm.”
Peggy Malloy said her house in Point Pleasant was not damaged by Sandy, but because of the new flood elevation maps, her current $800 annual flood insurance premium will go up to $10,000 or more.
“I can not afford to raze this home. I don’t qualify for any assistance. There’s no equity in my house now, the flood insurance issue has wiped that out, and I can’t sell it,” she said. “So if this does go forward, I will probably just stop paying my mortgage.”
And uncertainty about flood insurance rates is causing many homeowners to delay rebuilding from Sandy, said Brick Mayor John Ducey. He said he is concerned that the nature of the community will change if a lot of homes that have been in families for generations are sold because of soaring insurance costs.
Meanwhile, residents at the Shore were barcing for the snowstorm expected to move into the region Thursday evening.
Sheila Whiting, who lives in a home in Brick Township that was flooded Sandy, said she worries anytime there’s a storm.
“Even a little storm, even a little bit of rain, can cause more damage than it’s ever done before,” Whiting said. “People’s houses aren’t put together, people aren’t at the right pitch, the streets are not at the right pitch, the water is going in all the wrong directions.”
Residents hope a $40 million steel wall that’s planned along the shore in Brick and neighboring Mantoloking will give them some relief from future flooding until a dune protection system is completed along the entire Jersey coastline.