A state senator is urging that more funds be appropriated to raise houses and businesses in the Passaic River Basin as part of a permanent solution to flooding in the basin.
Sen. Joe Pennacchio, a Republican representing District 26, toured part of Bergen County Monday that was damaged by Tropical Storm Sandy. Pennacchio wants state officials to appropriate more funds to raise homes and businesses in the basin.
“Not everyone qualifies for a buyout,” Pennacchio said. “I’d like to see a program where the state can help do that. Raising homes is a lot less cheaper than it is to knock down homes and doesn’t permanently eliminate ratables.”
Pennacchio suggested having a program where people can apply for low-interest loans to raise their homes a few feet and above floodwaters.
“It’s something we should at least look into,” Pennacchio said.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency controls who receives federal money to raise their homes. Pennacchio was not aware of any state program that appropriates funds to elevate homes or businesses in flood prone areas.
FEMA has appropriated millions of dollars to buy out homes in Wayne and other municipalities in the basin. Qualifying residents are given fair market value for their homes, which are then knocked down and the properties left vacant. Those residents who don’t qualify for a buyout may qualify to have their homes elevated several feet.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is examining several possible long-term solutions to flooding in the basin. Constructing a combination of levees, floodwalls, home elevations and improving water flow is one of the solutions.