As a result of Toms River Township’s continuing efforts to review and monitor the recent and ongoing changes to the FEMA Flood Maps, Mayor Thomas F. Kelaher is pleased to announce that the Township Engineer has received a response to his latest letter to FEMA from December 17, 2013. Robert Chankalian’s letter, among other things, requested that FEMA revisit some areas along the bay front where the “V” zone, or wave velocity line, did not follow the bulkhead. This, in Chankalian’s opinion, erroneously resulted in some homes being placed in the V zone. Mayor Kelaher stated that this would result in significantly higher insurance premiums for those residents.
In their response letter, FEMA has agreed to shift the V zone line in three areas of the Township, resulting in 13 more homes being removed from the V zone. Projected flood insurance rates show that a home in the V Zone could pay approximately $5,000 more per year than a home in an A zone. Collectively, these 13 homes will save almost $65,000 per year in combined premiums once the Biggert-Waters Insurance Reform rates go into effect.
In addition to the good news for those V zone-effected residents, the Township also met with an engineering firm to discuss other revisions to the A zone elevations. Mr. Chankalian stated that he is concerned about the projected Base Flood Elevations (BFE) of some areas of Silverton and Green Island. We are seeing 100 year base flood elevations set higher than what residents experienced during Sandy. “Our first priority is to make sure the elevations are correct, and to protect the safety of our residents and their property. However, we are also monitoring how conservative the maps are. If they are too conservative, residents will be subjected to unnecessarily higher flood insurance premiums when the Biggert-Waters rates go into effect. There is a tipping point where design prevention and economics meet, and they have been set at the 100 year event. That is what we plan for, and will pay for. We don’t require people to build and insure for the 1000 year storm event,” Chankalian said.
Although the Base Flood Elevation is set higher in certain areas than what Sandy produced, despite several letters to FEMA stating this, it has not been well received. The Township thinks it may be in its best interest to retain a consulting engineering firm who has specialty software to determine BFE’s. This will allow the Township to run its own model and verify FEMA’s calculations. Chankalian added “The Township simply does not have that level of expertise, or software, in-house. That is why we are looking for the assistance of an outside firm.”