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Posted Monday, January 6th, 2020

Innovative Program Has Helped Purchase 76 Flood-Threatened Homes

The Morris County Freeholders has approved $165,000 in grant allocations to help finance the buyouts of four more flood-threatened residential properties in Lincoln Park.

Car partially submerged in floodwaters

Properties in Lincoln Park are subject to flooding from the Pompton River.

It marks a total of 76 county flood buyout grants for purchases across Morris County, including in Lincoln Park, under the county’s innovative Flood Mitigation Program, which has allocated $8.4 million to help fund buyouts of homes in seven Morris County towns.

On average, for every $1 spent by the county of flood mitigation, there have been $7 in benefits to the participating towns and county.

The freeholders voted unanimously at meetings in November and late December to approve the allocation for the latest four Lincoln Park grants for properties located near the Pompton River.

The homes on those properties eventually will be demolished and the properties converted to permanently preserved open space, which captures and absorbs floodwater.

Areas of Lincoln Park, which has received the most grants, at 24, have long been subject to chronic Pompton River flooding.

In addition to Lincoln Park, the county has provided grant funding for flood buyouts in Boonton, Denville, Long Hill, Morristown, Parsippany, Pequannock and Riverdale.

Freeholder Deborah Smith

Freeholder Director Deborah Smith

“We continue to employ this first-of-its-kind county program in New Jersey to help county residents get out of harm’s way in places that regularly flood and are likely to be struck by future flooding,’’ said Freeholder Director Deborah Smith.

“The buyouts also ease the burden on first responders, who are asked to rescue threatened families from flood waters, and it helps protect other nearby homes and businesses from subsequent flooding,’’ added Freeholder Stephen Shaw.

“We are thankful to the freeholders for their support of the Flood Mitigation Program, which has assisted us and other towns in Morris County,’’ said Lincoln Park Mayor David Runfeldt. “In addition to the savings for each municipality and the county, the program allows us to keep our first responders out of harms way and helps give a fresh start to residents who have been devastated by continued and worsening flooding.’’

The Freeholder Board established the Flood Mitigation Program in 2012, following the devastation caused by Hurricane Irene, to deal with repetitive flooding issues. It is an expansion of the Morris County Open Space, Farmland, and Historic Preservation Trust, and is funded by the county’s open space tax.

According to Virginia Michelin, coordinator of the Flood Mitigation Program, the program is structured with two basic funding tracks:

  • The Match Program offers up to a 25 percent county match to state and federal buyouts.
  • The CORE Program is designed to catch homes that have fallen through other agency’s funding nets, with Morris County providing up to 75 percent of the acquisition cost (four recent grants approved by the freeholders are in that category).

Lincoln Park logoMorris County’s mitigation program supplements state and federal flood buyouts. It helps towns secure flood-prone properties from willing sellers and convert the sites to permanently preserved open space, which captures and absorbs floodwater.

Additionally, these acquisitions lower municipal costs. Every project is subject to a detailed benefit-cost analysis based on FEMA computer models

Grant applications are considered from municipalities on behalf of willing sellers. All county funds go directly to municipalities, which purchase the properties and must maintain the land as public open space in perpetuity.

Additional information is available at https://planning.morriscountynj.gov/flood/ or by calling 973-829-8120.

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