Climate Central reports on the story here (see: Jersey Retreating From Rivers, But Not Coast, After Sandy," by John Upton). "Analysis of state data shows that, as of last week, 202 properties had been purchased at a total cost of $42 million," Climate Central reports. "And officials said they were in negotiations with hundreds more homeowners. Nearly half of the houses bought so far have already been torn down."
It's not that coastal residents don't want to get bought out: "A map produced earlier this year by NJ Spotlight clearly shows that coastal residents are applying for the program, sometimes in large numbers," Climate Central reports (see: "Blue Acres Buyouts Attract Over 1,000 Owners of Flood-Prone Homes," by Colleen O'Dea). But coastal properties aren't making the buyout list. One reason is that they don't tend to cluster together: ""There has been no town that had clusters of homes that's been presented to us that we've not considered," said New Jersey environmental department spokesman Larry Ragonese. And with state funding capped, the high price of coastal properties is a deterrent. "The bang for the buck was not there," said Ragonese.
But for inland towns, the bucks are flowing. Wayne, New Jersey is the latest to get funding, reports the North Jersey Record (see: "Wayne gets big grant to buy up flood-prone homes," by Minjae Park). The $31 federal grant will pay to buy out 114 houses in the town, FEMA announced (but the town has to put up the cash first, then file for reimbursement).
"The properties acquired will be 'maintained in perpetuity as open space for the conservation of natural floodplain functions,' according to the agreement," the paper reports. "The only structures allowed to be built are public facilities open on all sides, a rest room or something 'compatible with open space, recreation, or wetland management usage.'"
But towns have to move briskly if they want to actually see that money, reports the Record — and Paterson, New Jersey is at risk of having the clock run out (see: "With funding at risk, Paterson asks for extra time on flood buyout program," by Joe Malinconico).
"In an effort to avoid losing some of the $5.6 million that federal officials awarded Paterson for buyouts of flood-prone properties, city officials have asked for an extension of the spending deadline," the paper reports. "So far, officials said, the city has closed on just nine properties among the 42 locations covered in Paterson's 2012 agreement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which provided funding for acquisitions on the Northside in the aftermath of the historic post-Hurricane Irene floods."
The administration of former Mayor Jeffery Jones was criticized for mishandling the buyout program by purchasing scattered vacant lots to buy out, rather than clusters of homes in river floodplains. New Mayor Jose Torres says his office is hiring a consultant to help the town get the buyouts done correctly before time runs out.