Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Flooding Continues Across North Jersey

The remnants from Tropical Storm Lee are causing widespread misery across much of the same region affected by Hurricane Irene. Floodwaters, which had receded in many places, have again been creeping upwards and road closures are in effect or are expected as rains continue.

Hard hit areas like Wayne's Hoffman Grove have not seen the Irene floodwaters recede, but some places that had been able to begin cleaning up are putting efforts on hold as floods resume across the Passaic River floodplain.

State officials are closely monitoring the situation, and the US Senate appears to be in the process of approving $5 million for a home buyback program to buy homes in the flood zones, but it still requires the House to approve a similar measure. One of the issues is that it's a rather paltry sum and another is that far too many affected homeowners think that the buybacks shortchange homeowners because they're not paying what the owners think the homes are worth.

If a home continually gets flooded out, the value should plummet but owners think that the values are higher than the market would bear.

Should this buyback get approved, it would allow localities to buy and demolish homes in flood zones to create new wetlands that can help absorb flood waters.

Moreover, one has to wonder at the rationale for owners finishing out basements in flood-prone areas. It's bad enough when a basement floods, and the costs to replace HVAC and stored possessions can reach $10,000 or more, but finishing a basement is an unnecessary cost and localities should be moving to prevent such work from being done to lessen the costs to the homeowners, insurers, and taxpayers. While I completely understand the need to maximize space within a home and that building up or adding rooms can be far more costly, a basement flooding out on a periodic basis undermines the utility of that space and would be akin to keep a boat in the basement - it keeps costing.

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