THE GOV. SIGNS ON
Nobody expected this, so when it happened very few people really understood it’s possibly wide ranging implications. Another , maybe even bigger disaster then Hurricane Sandy is now taking shape along the coast in NJ and possibly other Coastal states as well and the MSM certainly isn’t accurately reporting this rapidly developing story. The other day NJ Gov. Christie told the Media that he was going to back the adoption of the newly issued draft of the F.E.M.A. flood elevation maps for NJ and the regulations that went with them. He said, this was because he wanted the NJ coast to rebuild better and stronger from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. Sounds ok, right? Sounds even rational given the way most Republicans act these days. That should have been the tip off that something was seriously wrong here and nobody in the media seemed to get it , or even try to get it. So as someone who is living on a barrier Island ( Absecon Island) where Atlantic City is one city among four towns and cities here, let me try to explain how this developing new disaster is happening.
THE PHONE CALL
As a person who writes a local blog called @ the Beach for the last 8 yrs. , I have more then a passing interest in anything that I think is going to greatly effect things along the Jersey shore and environs, my blog is based upon those events and situations among other larger and smaller issues. So, I knew something was up when out of the blue I get a recorded call from Margate City hall telling me to make sure I go to the city website and check out a form at the notices section of the website that needs to be filled out by every homeowner in Margate and has to be handed or emailed in by noon Jan. 22nd no later, or you won’t qualify for some sort of F.E.M.A. grant. Although, it didn’t seem that important, I browsed on over to Margate’s site anyway and went to the notices section and read the form and downloaded it. It didn’t say much , except if I wanted a F.E.M.A. grant to lift my home up to the new flood elevations I needed to put my property’s address lot and block no. & the name of the owner or owners on the form and have it in by noon Jan 22nd a week away. This peaked my curiosity, so I called the City clerk a fellow I’d known a very long time and I started asking questions. What I found out astonished me and then I started thinking about all the implications of what he told me. So, what did he tell me? What could be so bad about what F.E.M.A was proposing and why will it possibly end up being something that might have wide ranging effects on the local , regional and possibly even the Nat’l economy and soon?
THE BACK WASH
In Nov. right after Hurricane Sandy had wreaked havoc on coastal NJ and NY F.E.M.A. issued the draft copy of it’s newly revised Flood elevation maps for these regions. I’m not sure exactly how long it had been since the last flood maps had been issued and the associated regulations surrounding them? I’m pretty sure however, it had been decades and these new maps and regs. had been we were told 8 yrs. in the making. So, nobody was too surprised at first when the interactive maps were placed online for anyone to check out. I did briefly and honestly didn’t see what had changed. However, then it started to dawn on some people that F.E.M.A. also based eligibility, rates and regulations for Nat’l flood Insurance policies on these maps as well and that’s when the nightmare began.
VELOCITY ZONE AHEAD !!
Here’s what changed on those maps that I didn’t notice and is possibly going to devastate the coastal real estate market and economies as their presently constituted even more then Sandy did 2 mos ago. F.E.M.A had created a whole new category of flood zone known as a V zone or Velocity zone where the properties that exist there are considered @ imminent risk of flooding and the waves associated with various storm conditions and it now requires that all property within such zones be lifted up to the new flood elevation heights or either lose their flood policies or see huge increases in the price of these policies, immediately. Not mind you just “new” construction going forward , but to all property now existing in these zones! These new velocity zones in some instances cover entire barrier Islands like Long Beach Island and in other instances large %’s of barrier Island towns like in Margate, Ventnor and Atlantic City. If adopted, this would mean possibly hundreds of thousands of homeowners in coastal and riverine NJ would be forced to almost immediately have their homes brought up to these new elevations or else!
THE NAME OF THE GAME HERE IS MONOPOLY
So, how does this play out on the very Island that made Monopoly the most famous board game in history now and then? Let’s take an average home owner that just bought his home on Ventnor Ave. ( a green property) 3 yrs. ago for say $ 600,oo0 and the bank holds a mortgage for $300,000 on that property and here’s the rub, they require a flood Ins. policy as part of the mortgage ( all of which are issued on the coast by the Nat’l Flood Ins. agency a branch of F.E.M.A.) So, you now find out that you are in one of these new V zones, so you sign up for the $30,000 grant to lift you house , along with tens maybe even hundred of thousands of other homeowners in the same situation in NJ and then you find out it’s actually going to cost you more like $50,000 ( the real market price today) to lift it and you’ll have to wait for a yr. if that, because the company doing it already has hundreds of other people in front of you. Then you find out that after you lift it it will cost another possibly $35,000 to $50,000 to repair all the damaged walls, floors , doorways etc. and to reconnect all your plumbing, gas and electric cable etc. and you don’t have the money, so you go back to the same bank you have your mortgage with and ask for a loan based on the $600,000 purchase price of the home and are now told that the house isn’t worth anything anymore, because it’s in a velocity zone and it’s not at the right elevation. Sounds like a catch 22 situation doesn’t it? Well, this and similar stories are being played out right now today up and down the Jersey coast as I write this and it’s effecting possibly millions of people immediately. It’s now feared that if F.E.M.A. and Christie carry out these and other new regulations in the short, thousands maybe tens or even hundreds of thousands or more of these homeowners are going to lose their properties. This is all coming directly on the heels of many of these same people being damaged by the storm and many are still waiting to be partially compensated by the same Nat’l Flood agency for damages to their homes. In many instances these people have never made a claim and have been in their home for decades. Now they are being told to immediately lift them or see huge increases in their flood policy and find themselves in a situation if they don’t do this their home will probably be considered almost worthless for resale. Talk about being underwater, how ironic is that after actually being underwater just two mos. earlier. I consider the timing of the release of these new maps as insult to injury. Here then are people who have been paying for flood coverage maybe for decades and they don’t realize that if they lose it the bank can then foreclose on them, even if they are paying their mortgage on time. One morning they wake up to find their Insurance has gone up by many X’s the previous rate. and they don’t have the cash or can’t get a bank loan to raise it up to a level where the rate goes back down. This is where possibly huge nos. of poor and middle class people along the coast are beginning to realize they are right now. The predication by some are that whole communities are possibly going to be destroyed by these changes, that many people lacking the cash to make the transition will simply abandon their homes, just as many abandoned them back when the real estate bubble burst in 2008.
THE SHOCK DOCTRINE AGAIN
Here’s the rub, you can’t tell me the Gov’t doesn’t know this. They know it and they didn’t have to drop this bomb on everyone, they could implement this over yrs. if they wanted to and allow people and communities to adapt to these changes. Instead, they’ve chosen it seems to take a meat axe to these folks and their communities. You can bet the banks and the other land sharks who will profit off this change are just drooling at the endless prospects for all kinds of ways to rip off these same unfortunate folks. The way I see it is this amounts to what might be remembered as a forced evacuation of the coast, leaving behind only those people ( the 1%) who can afford to self insure and to buy property with cash. Everyone else is being jacked by the Gov’t and I wager some hidden unknown , but associated private interests. So, Hurricane Sandy is being used here as another example of the now famous “Shock Doctrine” of Naomi Wolf fame. Somebody or some groups have decided that not only is it time to force a coastal retreat for many reasons, but it’s also time for some insiders to as is becoming the norm in this corrupt excuse for a country, to make a huge killing off the millions of already storm shocked and slowly recovering residents and property owners along the shore. This is what our society has devolved into, nothing more then an endless scam, a rigged insiders game where human and natural catastrophes are used as excuses for a tiny bunch of greedy MFers, some masquerading as public officials along with their Corp. pals to plunder the public when and where the opportunity arises.