For some New Jersey homeowners who live in flood-prone areas, help could come from an unlikely solution — selling their properties to the state.
After touring some of the more devastated areas with Gov. Chris Christie, State Senate President Stephen Sweeney believes buying properties in chronically hard hit flood areas should be considered in light of Hurricane Sandy and 2011’s Hurricane Irene.
“People are pleading with us to buy out their properties and not re-build them,” Sweeny said in an interview with nj101.5.com, “and they’re right; we should.”
Historically, some of these same homeowners have rallied against the state making such a move, he said. “I spoke to them and said, ‘Before these storms came if we tried to get you to move you would never do it,’ and they said, ‘You’re right, but now after three storms in three years we can’t afford to stay here anymore.’”
Sweeney envisions the properties being preserved and used for parks or other recreational development.
“First we spend a lot of money to keep the water out,” he said. “Then we spend a lot of money when we have to fix the homes. Then we re-build them and they flood out again and we re-build them……We really have to do something to help these communities (and) allow these homeowners to move out of these areas. It’s not fair to keep them there subject to these storms every single year.”
Under the NJDEP Blue Acres program, the state is authorized to spend $12 million to purchase land in the floodways of the Delaware River, Passaic River or Raritan River. Properties, including those with building structures damaged by or prone to damage caused by storms or that buffer other properties from damage, are eligible under the program.