While Sandy has drawn increased attention to the vulnerability of communities along the Jersey Shore, the town where residents have historically filed the most repeat flood-insurance claims is not where some might expect.
According to claims data recently released by the state, residents of Wayne Township — nestled along the banks of the Passaic and Pompton rivers in Passaic County — have suffered 762 “repetitive losses” due to flooding over the past three-and-a-half decades, more than any other municipality in the state. The data were included in New Jersey’s new Hazard Mitigation Report, prepared by the Office of Emergency Management.
FEMA defines a Repetitive Loss (RL) property as “any insurable building for which two or more claims of more than $1,000 were paid by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) within any rolling ten-year period, since 1978.”
A Severe Repetitive Loss (SRL) is defined as “a single family property (consisting of 1 to 4 residences) that is covered under flood insurance by the NFIP and has incurred flood-related damage for which four or more separate claims payments have been paid under flood insurance coverage, with the amount of each claim payment exceeding $5,000 and with cumulative amount of such claims payments exceeding $20,000; or for which at least 2 separate claims payments have been made with the cumulative amount of such claims exceeding the reported value of the property.”
Among the other interesting stories the numbers tell:
• Although it sustained much less damage from Sandy than more northern parts of the coast, Cape May County historically has the highest number of repetitive loss claims, with 541 in Ocean City alone, and high numbers also in Atlantic City and the Wildwoods.
• As a result of flooding in Wayne, Pompton Lakes and Little Falls, Passaic County leads the pack in severe repetitive flood losses, followed by Morris County (mostly due to Lincoln Park and Pequannock).
• Other parts of Northern New Jersey including Bergen and Somerset counties also have high numbers of repetitive losses. Of particular note are river communities such as Little Ferry, Rochelle Park and Bound Brook.
FEMA is particularly concerned with RL and SRL properties because they strain the resources of the National Flood Insurance Program and continually disrupt and threaten the lives and livelihoods of residents. That’s why federal and state officials say they’re making a concerted effort to reduce flooding and offer buyouts in some of the most flood-prone areas.