Town Receives $18.5 Million To Purchase Flood-Damaged Homes
Funds will be used to purchase 70 homes along Passaic and Pompton Rivers.
Wayne will receive an additional $18.5 million to purchase 70 homes in the worst hit flood areas in town.
The homes are located in the Passaic River and Pompton River floodways.
The funds are provided through the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Severe Repetitive Loss Program. Properties are included in the program based on how much damange their properties have incurred in recent flood events. Homeowners are given fair market value for their property.
The township received $6.3 million last year from the program to buy out 56 homes in the Hoffman Grove section of Wayne. The money was part of a $28 million grant to municipalities to buy out homes in the Passaic River Flood Basin.
The township has already purchased and demolished more than 70 homes in Hoffman Grove in two rounds of acquisitions.
Some local officials, while they welcome the buyouts, said more needs to be done to prevent flooding in the basin beyond just getting residents out of harm's way.
"Buyouts are the complete answer, not at all," said 1st Ward Councilman Alan Purcell.
The 1st Ward is often the worse hit flood area in town. When flooding is particularly serious, as it was when Irene hit, parts of Routes 23 and 46 in the ward are closed.
The ward contains a lot of commercial space, including the Mall, and in the Mountainview section of town. Some flooded-out businesses in the ward have not yet opened since Irene and some residents have not returned to their homes.
"We can't buy out all of the industry in the 1st Ward, that's never going to happen, we need the jobs here in town, so something else must be done," Purcell said.
Purcell said that work should begin immediately on a drainage tunnel from the basin to Newark Bay.
"A tunnel would not only help solve the problem, it would stimulate the economy just like the Hoover dam did and that's still working the way it should all these years later," Purcell said. "A tunnel l control flooding to the point where we could enjoy more economic growth in the area."
Senator Frank Lautenberg announced Thursday morning that the funds had been allocated. Lautenberg is vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, which funds the program.
"This program provides an opportunity for Wayne families that face flooding year after year to move out of harm’s way," Lautenberg said in a statement. "While we work to find long-term solutions to flooding in this region, this federal funding is an important step that will create open space and reduce future flood damage."
Residents said the flooding caused by Hurricane Irene was the worse they’d ever seen. That flooding came not even six months after another flood event shut down major highways and drove people from their homes last March.