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.