Government Spent $660M Rebuilding NJ Homes That Keep Getting Flooded
It’s like throwing money out the window.
A new study finds over the past 40 years, hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent rebuilding homes in the Garden State that keep getting flooded.
According to Rob Moore, a senior policy analyst with the Natural Resources Defense Council, New Jersey has one of the highest totals of severe repetitive loss properties of any state in the nation.
“3,246 properties in the Garden State have together filed damage claims under the national flood insurance program that total $660 million,” he said.
“These are properties that have been repeatedly damaged in floods, and repeatedly rebuilt through the national flood insurance program.”
Across the country, the national flood insurance program paid out about $5 billion to fix and rebuild recurring flooded properties.
Data from the Federal Emergency Management Agency shows New Jersey has the third-highest number of severe repetitive loss properties in the country, after Texas and Louisiana.
“New Jersey is a very flood prone place. There are a lot of vulnerable properties, particularly along the Jersey Shore,” he said
Moore stressed the fact that we’re spending hundreds of millions of dollars in Jersey like this is very concerning, but “this becomes even more insane as the decades precede because of sea level rise.”
He noted around the country there are about 30,000 repetitive loss properties, according to FEMA. But “we’re looking at millions of properties in the coming decades with between 3 and 6 feet of sea level rise, and that’s a completely different ballgame.”
He said instead of spending millions to continually rebuild properties that keep getting flooded we should be helping the people that want to move to higher ground to be able to do so.
Moore explained a major problem with how the national flood insurance program is designed is that the assistance it provides is for rebuilding, not relocating.
“Where homeowners have been repeatedly flooded and want to relocate, rebuilding is not really the best option.”
"If people want to get out of a bad situation, the flood insurance program should be designed to help that happen, not hinder it.”
Moore said about 5 million people in the United States currently purchase flood insurance, in most cases because they’re required to as a condition of their mortgage. “But more people really need to be purchasing it.”
U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., has introduced legislation to reauthorize the national flood insurance program with significant changes. Congress must act before the end of September before the program expires.