FEMA Fumbling Brigantine Mapping?

To the editor from Jacqueline Crahalla…

A little background history regarding the flood rating for the southern inlet section of Brigantine (including Horizon Lane and Harbor Beach Cove). Years ago the flood zone was designated V10. We do not get “wave action” on this section of the island and no flooding. In 2001, after working with realtor Don Fagan and city officials, Congressman LoBiondo managed to have the zone corrected from V10 to A8.

In June 2001 I received a letter from the Congressman enclosing FEMA’s letter confirming a LOMR (Letter of Map Revision) for our section. Flood insurance rates went down considerably. Unfortunately the LOMR did not show up on FEMA’s website and this caused problems for realtors and insurance companies.

Last April I contacted the Congressman’s office again, sent copies of the 2001 correspondence, and on April 11 I was party to a conference call with four FEMA representatives. Within three days, the LOMR link was up, solving that problem. Incidentally, at that time the FEMA people told me FEMA was planning to do an entire Jersey Coastal Analysis in 2013.

Post-Sandy and per the new “advisory” flood maps, we are back to “V” once again. Fortunately our Mayor and City Council are not signing off on these proposed maps. I was advised by our City Engineer, Ed Stinson, to contact elected officials at the state and federal level.

Since FEMA is federal, I called Congressman LoBiando’s office once again, spoke with a staffer who suggested I call FEMA. I phoned FEMA, was transferred four times, and finally got a person who claimed to be an authority on the maps. She told me nothing could be done unless our city government could provide “local scientific evidence” to explain why FEMA’s new maps should be changed.

“Local scientific evidence”? How will the City provide “scientific evidence”? Photographs, maybe? Affidavits by those who were not flooded? Costly engineering studies?

While FEMA’s intention may be altruistic, they are being impractical and likely will cost residents and the City enormous new expenses which neither can afford, especially after Sandy.

Jacqueline Crahalla

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