EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBS) – Many New Jersey coastal communities have stronger building codes and standards in place today because of landfalling hurricanes in other parts of the country — notably Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
“Katrina is one of those storms that actually did change the way we do business,” says Vincent Jones, coordinator for the Atlantic County Office Of Emergency Preparedness (below). He says a lot was learned from past hurricanes, and there are now stricter ordinances in many places when it comes to preparing properties for hurricanes.
“Each local municipality is different,” notes Jones. “I mean, we have some that towns, side by side, (in which) Town A has more stringent codes than Town B, so you have to look at that. You have look at your local building codes. And for some older homes that may be deemed historical, there are state and federal standards that apply to modifications.”
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Still, he says, there are uniform standards for new construction near the shore.
“They have to be up on pilings,” he notes. “You have to have hurricane straps to basically keep the roof from blowing off. So there are a lot of good building codes, a lot of good building standards that have changed.”
Jones says you should make sure you know if your property is in a flood zone, since FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) has some programs available to offset costs for property owners who want to make storm protection modifications.
“Perhaps taking out the old windows and putting in better-rated windows for hurricane protection, (or) if they want to raise their utilities,” Jones says. “A lot of homes, where were your utilities? They were in your basement, or down in your crawl space” — where they were more vulnerable to storm damage.
And he says to make sure you have flood insurance.
“Most standard homeowners insurance policies do not cover against natural disasters such as flooding — that’s a separate policy that you have to get for flooding,” he advises. “People are unaware of that.”
For more information on hurricane preparedness, go to http://www.state.nj.us/njoem/.
Reported by John McDevitt, KYW Newsradio 1060