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Christie No Longer Waiting For FEMA, Adopts Tough Standards For Rebuilding

Residents Fear They May End Up With More Out-Of-Pocket Expenses
Union Beach Storm Damage (credit: CBS 2)

Union Beach Storm Damage (credit: CBS 2)

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Superstorm Sandy

UNION BEACH, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Residents of communities devastated by Hurricane Sandy have been waiting for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to tell them how and where they can rebuild.

But New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says he’s not waiting anymore.

He’s adopting the advisory maps the agency recently released, which establish tough standards, CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported Thursday.

Sandy destroyed the first floor of Steve Chandler’s home in Union Beach, forcing him and his family to take refuge upstairs with only a portable heater to stay warm in the bitter cold.

“Four boys, two girls, my mother-in-law and me and my wife,” Chandler said.

For Chandler, the problems keep coming, including walls that had to be ripped out and his water pipes freezing.

“Keep saying tomorrow will be a better day but better days aren’t coming yet,” Chandler said.

Chandler may now have to spend more to money to rebuild and he said he doesn’t have it. On Thursday, Christie adopted new standards for rebuilding in hurricane-ravaged areas. The governor said insurance rates could go up if home owners don’t follow the new guidelines based on FEMA maps.

“If the resident were to rebuild to the suggested BFE and appropriate construction standards the annual premium would not be $31,000 it would be $7,000,” Gov. Christie said.

The FEMA maps, which won’t come out for another year, could require the raising of homes by three or even six feet along the coast. One Union Beach inspector said it’s going to be a hardship for many.

“Even if they take the money to raise their homes, that extra two or three feet they may go to meet wave action — that’s out of pocket money,” Bob Burlew said.

“We’re going to propose for some of the community block grant money, additional home owner assistance grants,” Gov. Christie said.

Union Beach was demolished by Sandy. Homes were leveled. The folks who live in the community are relying on others, especially religious organizations that are helping them for free.

“It’s the best thing in the world,” a choked-up Chandler said.

Hope and faith are what has pulled many through these difficult times.

The governor said if the FEMA standards change within the next 18 months, residents would still be ahead of the game having raised their homes.

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