New Jersey’s Blue Acres Buyout Program has closed on purchasing its first home in flood-prone Manville as part of the state’s continuing efforts to move property owners out of areas impacted by severe storms, Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin announced today.
The acquisition marks the first buyout of a home through the Superstorm Sandy Blue Acres Program that was not greatly impacted by the October 2012 storm. The program was designed to incorporate areas that flood frequently, as well as homes damaged by Sandy.
“It has always been the intent of this program to move residents in flood-prone areas out of harm’s way, in addition to those impacted by the flooding during Superstorm Sandy,” Commissioner Martin said. “We recognize that Manville has been especially hard hit by devastating floods through the years and we look forward to helping these homeowners start anew as they put the damages of past storms behind them.”
The Blue Acres Program closed on the home of Todd and Traci Selody at 915 Dukes Parkway in Manville, a community essentially surrounded by water that often suffers devastating floods during major weather events. The property, purchased for $386,000, last flooded during Hurricane Irene in 2011, leaving a foot of water on the house’s main floor.
Between the damage caused by Irene and multiple other incidences of flooding in their home’s basement, Terri Selody said her family was stressed every time it rained, prompting their decision to pursue a Blue Acres buyout. The family has since moved to another home in Manville.
“For us, it ultimately was our goal to get out and we saw it as our only way,” Mrs. Selody said. “It worked out well for us.”
In Manville, Blue Acres has made offers on 99 homes, 69 of which have been accepted. Of those, 23 offers are under contract.
To date statewide, 719 properties in 10 municipalities have been approved for buyouts, with 449 homeowners accepting offers. The program has closed on 287 homes, of which 197 have been demolished. Blue Acres has made offers in nine municipalities, including offers made last week in Linden.
The Superstorm Sandy Blue Acres Program, launched in May 2013, buys homes from willing sellers at pre-Sandy market values and gives participants the chance to rebuild their lives after the devastation of a storm outside flood-prone areas. Structures are demolished and the properties are converted to open space. Homes identified for purchase in Manville include some flooded by Hurricane Irene in 2011 and other storms prior to Sandy.
Manville has a lengthy history of severe flooding, particularly in a low-lying section of the borough known as Lost Valley. The area often suffers repeated and severe flooding from the Millstone River.
During major storms, the area is unable to absorb the volume of water that results from rainfall, runoff and back flooding from the Millstone River as well as other nearby waterways such as the Raritan River, Royce Brook and various other tributaries. During flood emergencies, flood rescues often have to be done by helicopter because of limited access to the area.
With the closing on the Selody property, Manville joins other flood-ravaged communities that will benefit from the Christie Administration’s federally funded buyout effort, which seeks to purchase as many as 1,300 homes in flood-damaged and flood-threatened areas.
In addition to more than $100 million in funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, post-Sandy Blue Acres buyouts are funded through U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery grants, with additional funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Natural Resources Conservation Service and the state Green Acres program.
The DEP has created a special team for its Blue Acres Buyout Program to work closely with sellers and process their applications as quickly as possible. The team reaches out to individual homeowners personally and guides them through the acquisition process.
Homeowners interested in selling their homes or who have questions about the buyout program may call the DEP’s Blue Acres Program at (609) 984-0500.
For more information on the Blue Acres Program, visit:www.nj.gov/dep/greenacres/blue_flood_ac.html.
For information on Sandy Recovery, visit: www.nj.gov/dep/special/hurricane-sandy/