John Makely / NBC News
Kevin Faller and Karen Spanover, of Toms River, N.J., learned that they would have to invest tens of thousands of dollars to elevate their home or else pay higher flood insurance premiums.
TOMS RIVER, N.J. – Thousands of homeowners in New York and New Jersey impacted by Hurricane Sandy are facing a tough choice that may thwart their efforts to rebuild: Comply with costly new federal construction guidelines or prepare to pay annual flood insurance rates that could top $20,000.
New federal flood maps revealed in June added 68,000 structures in New York City and thousands more in New Jersey to flood zones. Now, affected homeowners are being forced to make drastic changes to their residences, such as elevating them on pilings, or incur punishing new insurance premiums that will take effect by mid-2015. Given the new rules, many Sandy survivors are grappling with whether they should alter their properties – or leave.
“We are faced with something that we can’t overcome,” said police officer Kevin Faller, 52, a Toms River resident who has decided to give up his home rather than comply with the new requirements. Having already lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in home equity post-Sandy, Faller said he and his wife could not afford “this tsunami of expenses coming toward us.”
The Federal Emergency Management Agency began updating coastal flood maps across the country in 2009, a process it expects to complete by 2017.