Woodbridge Homeowners in Sandy-Devastated Areas Just Can't Catch a Break
If it's not the requirements you rebuild your flooded home to 13 feet over grade, then it's the tax increases you get on the improvements that's bleeding Woodbridge residents dry.
Homeowners in Woodbridge Township who live in flood-prone areas had a lot to say about the cost of being hit by both FEMA, flood insurance increases, and hurricanes, and it's not pretty.
Residents of the perpetually waterlogged Watson Avenue in Woodbridge Proper vented on Woodbridge Patch's Facebook page, after reading a story that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has increased the Advisory Base Flood Elevations - the height from grade from which devastated homes can be rebuilt - from 9 feet, before Hurricane Sandy, to the current 13 feet.
For these homeowners, it's another disaster.
"We are having so much trouble with our insurance just for repairs, that I have no idea how will we pay to raise our foundation now," said Debbie Wherrity Smith.
"It is all so ridiculous and unfair.We now have to evaluate if we are going to rebuild or walk away."
For some homeowners, they just can't win. Justin Kooy's home raised his rebuilt home after Hurricane Irene's destruction in 2011.
"They revised that map in 2010 for Woodbridge, [for the] first time since the 80s," Kooy said. "My insurance went from $2,500 to $320 when I elevated [my home] after Irene.
Then, because of the improvements on his rebuilt home, Kooy said, the township "raised my taxes $3,000 a year, so it all equalled out. [It's] not fair."
Christina O'Learny said that even if she raises her home to her area's new 14 foot high elevation, she will still have to pay "crazy high" flood insurance rates.
"If we don't raise the house, we will be paying $9K a year... How are we supposed to pay that along with taxes, mortgage and other daily bills? We are completely screwed!" O'Leary posted.
Politicians from towns with Hurricane Sandy damage have gone out of their way to hold open town meetings and keeping in touch with residents to help them survive and rebuild.
Some of the Watson Avenue and area homeowners said that's not been the case in Woodbridge.
" I have never been contacted. It's very frustrating because Woodbridge has never seemed to really care about the flooding. Nothing ever gets discussed or is done about it, yet we pay District 1 property taxes," Kooy said.
Debbie Wherrity Smith got an upsetting letter from the township. "The only thing we have received from Woodbridge was a letter stating that we had 30 days to repair our house or have it demolished," she posted.
Christine O'Leary had to call to get help. "I called the building dept when I heard about the elevation number being raised and they sent me a pack 'Answers to Questions about Substantially Damaged Buildings'," she said.
"I think they should have sent these packs out without taxpayers having to ask first."