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House Buyouts In Flood Area Move Forward

Borough moving forward with the acquisition of five homes that have requested a buyout due to repetitive flooding.

The borough is ready to move forward with the acquisition of the first five homes whose homeowners have submitted requests for acquisition through mitigation grants provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Green Acres Grant Program

Flood hazard mitigation is any sustained action that prevents or reduces the loss of property from recurring severe repetitive loss due to flooding. Through the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management's "Mitigation Squad" this task is accomplished by implementing and administering several grant-based programs in conjunction with FEMA. 

In November, Sgt. Michael Gallagher, from the mitigation unit of the N.J. Office of Emergency Management (NJOEM), met with New Milford residents to discuss the acquisitions and elevations of some flood-affected properties through FEMA grants.

During the , Gallagher informed residents that due to the severe flooding caused by Hurricane Irene and the repetitive flooding since Hurricane Floyd, the NJOEM understands there is a greater interest by the municipality in FEMA mitigation grants, especially in regard to the acquisition of homes that experience repeated flooding.

Residents who expressed interest in having their home acquired were asked to complete and submit forms to the mayor and council. Properties that qualified for this grant were those determined by the local building inspector as substantially damaged. After determination was made, the Mayor and Council was charged with making the decision as to which properties would receive the grant monies. 

The acquisition process begins with an appraisal of the properties by a Green Acres approved appraisal company. The appraisal is based on pre-storm fair market value. The homeowner has the option to accept the appraisal or conduct their own. If the second appraisal comes in within 10 percent of the original appraisal, the state will usually go with it. 

If there is no consensus between the first and the second appraisal, a third appraisal will be performed. 

If the homeowner was given FEMA money from Hurricane Irene to restore their property and they did not do the work, that money is deducted from the fair market value. 

Borough officials said that the borough has three years to complete the entire process, from the acquisition to the complete clearing of the property. The three year clock started running March 1, 2012.

The FEMA grant contributes 75 percent towards the total cost of the acquisition and the Green Acres grant contributes the remaining 25 percent.   

j April 13, 2012 at 08:08 PM
no house in that area is worth that kind of "inflated" amount.
j April 13, 2012 at 08:14 PM
All of the expenses used every time there is a major flood, should be an eye opener to all. I know everyone down on Columbia loves their properties, and yes I have seen how beautiful some of the properties are, but the town has to realize that the river side of Columbia will ALWAYS flood! Nothing is going to change that, but to think that just because a home is fixed up after a big storm, and is beautiful to view, doesn't mean it's worth 400-500k, when a comparable house on higher ground is valued the same. Sorry Ulises, but the river side homes will always be flooded and a huge drain on municipal tax dollars, due to all the problems since floyd.
j April 15, 2012 at 02:13 PM
ulises, you are living in a dream world if you think any house along the river, which continues to constantly flood, is worth the strain on the town budgets. I have lived here many years, and don't think anyone should be allowed to build, or rebuild anything down. Tax rateables or not, it is NOT worth the strain on the surrounding towns. thank you for your one sided opinion
j April 15, 2012 at 04:01 PM
we are ulises, my point is that I do not feel the riverside homes are worth much. That grant should be buying up many homes, not a few. the town resources have been drained by some who feel they should stay in the homes during a storm, and then put all at risk. that is simply wrong. Unfortunately, i'm afraid that when the homes are demolished, the other side of the street will start to flood worse than ever. I have been helping out down there since Floyd, and it is NOT a place that anyone should live in when the river rears its ugly head, as it has so many times in the past.
j April 22, 2012 at 08:18 PM
BTW...was all insurance money received..used to replace damages to the physical homes??? I'm sure it was not...and we all know that is not right....Just Do iT..Nike

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