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Finally - Woodbridge's Hurricane Sandy Residents Get a Public Meeting

Have you had problems with flooding, destruction, flood map changes, and sky high insurance hikes because of Hurricane Sandy? Go to Woodbridge High School this Thursday for some answers.


Woodbridge residents who were hard-hit by Hurricane Sandy have been wondering why there haven't been any open public meetings to address the problems with which they are still contending.

Their prayers are finally being answered.

There will be a meeting this Thursday, February 21, at Woodbridge High School from 7 pm to 9 pm.

Representatives from the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) are expected.

But probably one of the most urgently questioned organizations will the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). That's because the flood zone maps in Woodbridge have been drastically changed in flood-prone areas, and some homeowners have already seen their flood insurance bills rise thousands of dollars.

It's finally gotten to the point where, months after other Sandy-struck towns have had multiple public meetings to address their concerns, pressure from Woodbridge residents on town officials has resulted in their getting a chance to get some answers. 

Several homeowners who were upset by the lack of response all these months from Woodbridge Town Hall said the reason why Mayor John McCormac gave for avoiding public meetings about the flooding is that he doesn't want "Woodbridge to be known as a flood town."

 

 

Brian O'Leary February 20, 2013 at 08:20 PM
"and some homeowners have already seen their flood insurance bills rise thousands of dollars." Can you elaborate on this? I haven't heard anything and I wasn't even aware of the change in the flood maps already. Thought this wasn't happening until later this year, or next year.
JK February 20, 2013 at 09:23 PM
The rates have not gone up yet, but without any change to new proposed ABFE which is totally ridiculous, and much higher than Sandys waters ever got in our area, they are going through the roof.
Brian O'Leary February 21, 2013 at 01:07 AM
thanks, JK. agreed, the rates will be unimaginable according to what is being said by FEMA. just wanted to make sure nobody was actually seeing a raise in their actual premium yet.
unknownauthor February 21, 2013 at 01:34 PM
Will FEMA changes affect home values? If the new FEMA maps show areas of the township are more prone to flooding and to flooding at greater depths, the insurance rates will go up dramatically. New flood levels, coupled with much higher flood insurance rates are sure to drive down the value of the homes in those areas. But just because your property is not in "flood zone", don't think your property values couldn't be affected. When homes go on the market, Realtors price by and home buyers look for "COMP" prices in the area. So if a home or homes in your neighborhood goes under water and sells cheap, the effect will be felt by all future sellers in the area, for some time to come. Now here's what may be a little "Catch 22" scenario. A home owner believes the value of their home has dropped (who's hasn't of late, even before Sandy) and they want relieve on their property taxes. Good luck! The tax office will tell you your property value is tied to "comps" in your area. So if no one can sell their home in your area, especially the ones in the 'zone', how do you get a comp comparison? Perhaps, you could hire a licensed real estate appraiser to see what your property is currently worth. If it is less, then you have to file a tax appeal. From what I heard, good luck on that one and don't expect big savings, even if you win. The other alternative is to what until you can show, through a recent property sale, your property is now worth less! Then appeal.
JK February 21, 2013 at 04:11 PM
We need to fight the township to appeal these new maps, but more importantly they need to try and mitigate this flooding. The town seems to have money for everything else, but not for flood mitigation. They have spent millions over last few years on skate parks, solar panels, etc and barely anything towards flood mitigation. Seems like the want to rely on a FEMA grant, and that's the only way the will do anything. They need to save their money for other things more important things apparently.
Robert Johns February 21, 2013 at 08:53 PM
"Numerous other towns have had meetings"? Which ones in our area? WHich ones even in Middlesex County? Of course the shore towns have had meetings but look at how hard they were hit. Do you have any facts to support your contention or is this just another one of your cheap shots at the administration in town hall for which you can offer no documentation?
Deborah Bell (Editor) February 21, 2013 at 09:21 PM
You just admitted shore towns had meetings, but now you want me to provide 'documentation' for it. I believe there's a Google for that. There are also a ton of Patch sites with multiple stories on how their administrations have worked with people who lost their homes in the hurricane. In Middlesex County, I know Sayreville's administration and council devoted council meetings to the effects of the hurricane, and hearing from people who suffered severe losses from it. You seem to dismiss the effects Sandy had on Woodbridge residents. Of course, Woodbridge had nothing like the devastation the shore area had. That doesn't mean that the losses town homeowners had here weren't every bit as important and as real - especially if you're the one who owns the house hit by the storm surge. Ignoring the legitimate concerns of those Woodbridge homeowners makes no sense, certainly not for a news organization.
Just another day February 22, 2013 at 01:53 AM
It looks like having a meeting with the affected Sandy victims was not very important to Mac and crew. Remember that on election day folks!!!!
Robert Johns February 22, 2013 at 03:06 PM
There are town council meetings every other week. Did Sayreville have FEMA out for a public meeting yet? Anybody else in the County? Naturally FEMA would go to the hardest hit towns first but it seems like Woodbridge is getting good attention. Your headline saying "Finally" is terribly misleading as if to imply that the town is not doing its job. If we were the first town around to have a meeting with the Federal government and if they meet in public every two weeks then how can you use a word like "Finally".
Deborah Bell (Editor) February 22, 2013 at 03:43 PM
Robert, it's been four months since Hurricane Sandy. Any town which was going to have a meeting (or meetings) has had them all along. Woodbridge never called a public meeting to discuss this. They never had a council meeting specifically devoted to Hurricane Sandy issues, and they never publicized it. After four months, "Finally" is a perfect word to describe the WHS FEMA meeting. One other thing. I'm glad you're commenting on Patch, and you'd seem to have a lot of opinions. I'd like to invite you to blog for Patch. I'll make sure your posts are featured on Woodbridge Patch's home page. Please consider it. :)
Robert Johns February 22, 2013 at 06:42 PM
How do you know that Woodbridge did not try to get FEMA earlier but they were too busy with the Shore towns who were hit the hardest? Did anyone else in Middlesex COunty have a meeting with FEMA? Sayreville? South Amboy? Perth Amboy? Old Bridge? That's who to compare us to. And why did the town have to have a special FEMA meeting when people can speak every two weeks at a Council meeting? All the dates are published. Without FEMA there, what would be the point of a special meeting? I think you are just being overly negative for no reason. If I was impacted by the storm in Colonia I would be just fine with the Township's response.
Deborah Bell (Editor) February 22, 2013 at 07:02 PM
I've answered your questions already, but you keep ignoring my answers. I don't think I can make it any more clear than I already have. I suggest you consider blogging your opinion. I'm sure that Patch readers would love to comment on what you have to say.
Robert Johns February 22, 2013 at 07:53 PM
No you did not at all. You did not defend your use of the word "Finally". That word clearly implies that the town should have done something sooner. You don't know that they didn't try. You don't know if FEMA wanted to visit the hardest hit towns first. You cannot point to one of the town's peers in the town's county that got FEMA to come quicker than Woodbridge did. You criticized the town for not calling a special meeting. For what? WIthout FEMA? Before the Governor made the maps official? When there are public meetings every two weeks? You seem to have a serious anti-administration slant to your stories and even your headlines. Sorry but you cannot justify the word "Finally" at all.
Catherine Bach February 22, 2013 at 08:57 PM
All you have to do Robert Johns is a Google search for "Hurricane Sandy" town hall meetings and you will see towns like Sayreville, Westfield, the Flanders township area and of course most of the worst hit places down the shore. It's interesting to see how places in Connecticut have even had town hall meetings and their damage wasn't as bad as what NJ saw. Staten Island had meetings too and even in the upstate NY area the local politicians were concerned and holding meetings. Why is it so many mayors in so many towns across the tri-state area were concerned about the people and it took months before the Mayor McCormac even bothered to find out directly from people in his towns what was going on? What does this guy do all day anyway?
unknownauthor February 22, 2013 at 09:38 PM
@Robert Johns, your avatar maybe that of Rush Limbaugh, but who read like a poor, Mac version, of Jay Carney! Were you at the FEMA show Thursday night? Mac was, stage right, with his minions in the first few rows in front of him. Why? Support or showmanship? If there was anything concert that came out of that performance, it was that it provided residents, especially those who, most unfortunately, have and are still suffering from Sandy, a chance to share their stories and frustrations. McCormac had no real answers, lots of excuses (a la shades of his trading water after Hurricane/Storm Irene) and promises of more to come. Exactly what and when? Well, as he noted, he likes his job; so he had to say something. To be fair, there really isn't much he can do to mitigated the problems the flood victims are enduring, beyond waiving permitting fees and whatever assistance that can be given under the township's purview. It's up to the Feds and the state to get the problems addressed! What the township can or should do in the future to mitigate future flooding problems, throughout the township, is a topic for lots of further discussion. It is hoped that every resident will watch the recording of or read the Minutes from the meeting. Anyone that does will, I hope, say a prayer for those you are suffering from Hurricane Sandy. And then pray we never see the like of Sandy again!
unknownauthor February 22, 2013 at 10:42 PM
@ Catherine Bach. Very well stated. Not sure Johns will get it, but the rest of us do! As to your very astute question, that being, "what does this guy do all day?"; didn't he once tell a group of young school children, he goes into his town hall office, closes the door and plays sudokus. If true, at least he isn't spending all his time thinking of new ways to spend, bond and tax!
JK February 25, 2013 at 06:06 PM
Us residents have been fighting for a meeting like this for years. Sandy was just the tipping point. So yes, "Finally" is the perfect word to use.

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