County News

County fights flooding by purchasing property, creating more open space

Flooding in Morris County, N.J. Photo courtesy of Morris County

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  • County News Article

    County fights flooding by purchasing property, creating more open space

    Problem:

    Residents in Morris County, N.J. were experiencing recurrent flooding and first responders were rescuing people from flood-prone properties.

    Solution:

    Purchase land, remove homes and restore properties to open space to better absorb floodwaters and protect other nearby properties from flooding.

    Hurricane Irene inundated Morris County, N.J. 11 years ago, leading to record-breaking crests on three main rivers. The county now marks the 10th anniversary of the Flood Mitigation Program it launched to convert vulnerable properties to open space.

    The county’s “very successful program” has allocated $9.6 million to obtain 84 flood-prone properties in eight Morris County towns, according to Commissioner Stephen H. Shaw, a member of the Morris County Board of County Commissioners. Shaw is liaison to the Morris County Office of Planning and Preservation, which manages the program.

    The county originally considered proposals for costly structures to mitigate flood damage along the Passaic, Pompton and Rockaway rivers, he said. “But this is less costly than a flood tunnel and is more environmentally friendly.” The program quickly won two environmental awards from the State of New Jersey for its innovation.

    The mitigation program not only directly benefits homeowners who are able to move away from constantly flooded areas, Shaw said. Removing buildings and converting the properties to open space allows the land to better absorb flood waters. “By getting the structures out, it helps people downstream. The structures were backing water up and making flooding worse.”

    Heavy rains in early April caused flooding in Morris County, including in Lincoln Park, located next to the banks of the Pompton River, an area that was hard hit by Hurricane Irene.

    But since that time, 22 structures have been purchased and removed from the banks of the river, in Lincoln Park, Shaw noted. This time, “22 families are no longer dealing with that” and, with fewer structures underwater, the river waters were more quickly absorbed.

    The Flood Mitigation Program operates through the Morris County Open Space, Farmland and Historic Preservation Trust. Using what Shaw called “a sliver of our taxpayer-approved open-space dollars” the board decided to supplement state and federal programs by helping towns obtain flood-prone lots. The county funds go directly to the municipalities, which purchase the properties from willing sellers and are required to retain the land as public open space.

    Towns use the county funds in conjunction with other funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the New Jersey Green Acres/Blue Acres program and, in some cases, municipal contributions.

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

    The Flood Mitigation Program consists of 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 costs.

    Grant applications are considered on a rolling basis by the county Flood Mitigation Committee from municipalities on behalf of willing sellers, according to Shaw. Each project is subject to a benefit-cost analysis based on FEMA computer models.

    Problem:
    2022-04-25
    County News Article
    2022-05-13
Morris County, N.J. purchased land, removed homes and restored properties to open space to better absorb floodwaters and protect other nearby properties from flooding.

Problem:

Residents in Morris County, N.J. were experiencing recurrent flooding and first responders were rescuing people from flood-prone properties.

Solution:

Purchase land, remove homes and restore properties to open space to better absorb floodwaters and protect other nearby properties from flooding.

Hurricane Irene inundated Morris County, N.J. 11 years ago, leading to record-breaking crests on three main rivers. The county now marks the 10th anniversary of the Flood Mitigation Program it launched to convert vulnerable properties to open space.

The county’s “very successful program” has allocated $9.6 million to obtain 84 flood-prone properties in eight Morris County towns, according to Commissioner Stephen H. Shaw, a member of the Morris County Board of County Commissioners. Shaw is liaison to the Morris County Office of Planning and Preservation, which manages the program.

The county originally considered proposals for costly structures to mitigate flood damage along the Passaic, Pompton and Rockaway rivers, he said. “But this is less costly than a flood tunnel and is more environmentally friendly.” The program quickly won two environmental awards from the State of New Jersey for its innovation.

The mitigation program not only directly benefits homeowners who are able to move away from constantly flooded areas, Shaw said. Removing buildings and converting the properties to open space allows the land to better absorb flood waters. “By getting the structures out, it helps people downstream. The structures were backing water up and making flooding worse.”

Heavy rains in early April caused flooding in Morris County, including in Lincoln Park, located next to the banks of the Pompton River, an area that was hard hit by Hurricane Irene.

But since that time, 22 structures have been purchased and removed from the banks of the river, in Lincoln Park, Shaw noted. This time, “22 families are no longer dealing with that” and, with fewer structures underwater, the river waters were more quickly absorbed.

The Flood Mitigation Program operates through the Morris County Open Space, Farmland and Historic Preservation Trust. Using what Shaw called “a sliver of our taxpayer-approved open-space dollars” the board decided to supplement state and federal programs by helping towns obtain flood-prone lots. The county funds go directly to the municipalities, which purchase the properties from willing sellers and are required to retain the land as public open space.

Towns use the county funds in conjunction with other funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the New Jersey Green Acres/Blue Acres program and, in some cases, municipal contributions.

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

The Flood Mitigation Program consists of 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 costs.

Grant applications are considered on a rolling basis by the county Flood Mitigation Committee from municipalities on behalf of willing sellers, according to Shaw. Each project is subject to a benefit-cost analysis based on FEMA computer models.

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