NJ holds virtual town hall on preventing Ida-like flood damage

TRENTON, New Jersey (WABC) -- New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy held a virtual town hall Friday with state and federal officials to outline ways to get help to residents in the wake of Ida's historic flooding, which killed at least 30 people and led to federal disaster declarations in 12 counties.

"It's not a matter of if the next devastating storms hits, it's about when," Murphy said.

That sentiment has become a stark reality after record setting rain this summer.

"I urge everyone to look into purchasing a flood insurance policy," Murphy said. "Where it rains, it can flood, and it's best to prepare for the future."

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Flood insurance can be expensive, however, and this summer has also brought up the topic of housing inequality -- especially when it comes to lower income families and people of color

"Starting at the top of the federal government, there were opportunities offered to white families that weren't offered to families of color," said Adam Gordon, executive director of the Fair Share Housing Center. "As a result, a lot of the most desirable neighborhoods, which even before climate change accelerated, were often those homes not near harm's way, not near a flood plain, or on higher ground."

In particular, according to analysis done by NRP, homes sold by the Department of Housing and Urban Development are disproportionality located in flood plains

New Jersey was one of the states with higher numbers, NPR found, with about 7% of homes sold by HUD located in flood plains compared to .1% percent non-HUD homes that were sold between 2017 and 2020.

"This Administration is committed to improving the resiliency of communities in flood zones as part of its priority to address climate change," HUD said in a statement to Eyewitness News. "As part of our work to support the critical Administration priorities for addressing climate change and the resiliency of the nation's housing stock, we are engaging with FEMA and other federal partners to look at policies, operations, and actions that can be taken. HUD's disaster recovery portfolio alone accounts for the federal government's single largest investment in recovery and resilience in low-to-moderate-income communities. The Department invests billions of dollars every year in housing, infrastructure, and services in neighborhoods and cities across the U.S. through its ever-increasing role in disaster relief and recovery. The agency is building our library of climate resources to better support the communities we serve. We released a toolkit to help governments, stakeholders, and residents learn about actions they can take to defend themselves against natural hazards like heat, wildfires, droughts, and floods."

There are ways the potential buyers can avoid buying a home in a flood zone.

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FEMA representatives were on hand for Paterson residents who suffered property damage and loss from Hurricane Ida.


"There's a lot of now-publicly available information about flood risk," Gordon said. "There's websites where you can look at flood risk. I've seen recently sites like Redfin have started to add that information."

It's also recommended that potential buyers ask their real estate agent any additional flood related questions.

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