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TRENTON - The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) announced a new Mitigation Assistance Program March 31, which will help residential property owners in flood-prone communities elevate their homes to better withstand future flooding disasters. 

According to a release, the Mitigation Assistance Program (MAP) will begin in Fairfield Township, Essex County, with the help of a $5 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). DCA intends to expand the program to other repetitive flooding communities around the state as future FEMA grant funding allows.

“Severe flooding can completely upend people’s lives for years as they struggle to deal with the damage to their home, finances, and physical and mental health. Knowing the awful impact flooding can have, we want to ensure that fewer property owners become victims of flooding disasters by providing them with the means to elevate their home out of harm’s way,” stated Lt. Gov. Sheila Y. Oliver, who serves as DCA commissioner. “We’re proud to be investing resources into this new program because home elevations are a proven way to reduce people’s long-term risk of severe flooding and to promote more resilient communities.”

DCA has years of experience overseeing housing recovery and mitigation efforts after Superstorm Sandy hit the state, in 2012, elevating homes, and coordinating natural disaster response with governmental partners including FEMA. Because the MAP program will expand the department’s role beyond Superstorm Sandy work, DCA has officially changed the name of the Sandy Recovery Division to the Division of Disaster Recovery and Mitigation to better reflect the Division’s mission of strengthening New Jersey’s long-term resilience against future severe weather events and flooding damage.

“We look forward to working with Fairfield Township, Essex County, the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management, and Fairfield property owners themselves to help reduce homeowners’ flood risk and the anxiety they feel during storms,” stated Samuel Viavattine, director of the Division of Disaster Recovery and Mitigation. “We also thank FEMA for the grant award that makes the Mitigation Assistance Program possible and anticipate collaborating with them well into the future to bring this program into more communities that need it.”

The Division plans to begin the home elevations in Fairfield Township this year. The residential homes in the program have repeatedly sustained severe flood damage and/or are located within a Special Flood Hazard Area, in Fairfield Township. The elevation projects will include engineering and architectural plans, survey and elevation certifications before and after construction, and all pertinent work to elevate the residential home’s lowest floor three feet above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE).

The MAP program will fully cover the cost for all eligible activities including design, construction related to elevation, and repair of the home. Temporary rental assistance will also be provided to homeowners since they will need to be out of their homes throughout the duration of construction.

The Division of Disaster Recovery and Mitigation will continue applying to FEMA in future grant cycles for funding in other communities that are experiencing repetitive flooding.

For more information about the Mitigation Assistance Program, visit https://www.nj.gov/dca/ddrm/programs/mitigation.shtml, on the DCA website.

The DCA offers a wide range of programs and services, including local government management and finance, affordable housing production, fire safety, building safety, community planning and development, and disaster recovery and mitigation.

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