New Jersey will spend $50 million to buy homes flooded by the remnants of Hurricane Ida as part of broader efforts to prepare the state for future storms, Governor Phil Murphy announced Tuesday.
“We will focus on the worst of the worst properties in the communities affected by Ida. We will work with homeowners to get them off this expensive merry-go-round, a ride that no longer makes economic or environmental sense,” Murphy said during a news conference in Lambertville, which was flooded during the September storm.
“The cycle of flood, rebuild, flood, rebuild is not good for families or communities,” he said.
Murphy said he would use federal Ida disaster recovery funds to prioritize purchasing Ida-damaged homes through the state’s Blue Acres program. The program offers homeowners market prices for their properties so they can relocate. The structures are then demolished so that the area can better absorb future flooding. State officials said more than 250 homeowners have already applied.
The money will help homeowners like Maryann Morris, whose Manville home was destroyed by Ida eight months ago.
“There were still baby blankets from my daughter and stuff from the hospital when she was born,” Morris, 43, told Gothamist. “There were presents in there that she hadn’t been able to open since her birthday.”
About 6% of Manville’s buildings were damaged at more than half the property value and city officials ordered those homes to be elevated or purchased by Blue Acres. Building a home can cost more than $100,000, so for many residents, selling their property is the best option.
The state will also offer $10 million in grants to municipalities that invest in green infrastructure projects. The state also announced plans to modernize its flood risk standards so new construction projects can survive future storms.
“Today, everything we build is based on a rainfall standard that was developed in 1999 and that has to change,” Shawn LaTourette, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection, said Tuesday.
“Our communities are tired of recovering from storms; It’s time we help each other become more resilient.”