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 against future storms, Gov. Phil Murphy announced on Tuesday.
“We will focus on the worst of the worst properties in Ida-impacted communities. We will work with homeowners to get them off this costly merry-go-round, a ride that no longer makes economic or environmental sense,” Murphy said during a press conference in Lambertville, which 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 homes damaged by Ida through the state’s Blue Acres program. The program offers homeowners market-rate prices for their properties so they can relocate. The structures are then demolished so the area can better absorb future flood waters. 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 my daughter’s baby blankets and stuff from the hospital when she was born,” Morris, 43, previously told Gothamist. “There were presents down there that she hadn't gotten to open from her birthday.”
About 6% of Manville’s buildings suffered damages to more than half the value of the property and town officials mandated those homes either be elevated or bought out by Blue Acres. Lifting 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 grant dollars for municipalities that invest in green infrastructure projects. The state also announced plans to modernize its flood hazard standards so new construction projects can survive future storms.
“Today, everything we build is based on a standard of rainfall 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 is time we help each other become more resilient instead.”