TRENTON, NJ -- As Superstorm Sandy approached coastal New Jersey, residents prepared for
the storm’s impact by moving their cars and boarding up windows and doors.
Many residents expected to quickly return to their homes and begin preparing to celebrate the
upcoming holiday season.
What Sam Juliano and his neighbors in West Creek did not expect was the 5-foot storm surge Sandy sent into their community.
Since the Julianos rebuilt their home to new building standards nearly three years ago, they escaped the storm with minor damage and cleanup, unlike the majority of their neighbors.
“Our neighbors have been here for 30 years and Sandy was the worst they’ve seen,” Juliano said. “They never had water in their houses before.”
Juliano and his wife always dreamed of having a home on the shore so in 1998 they purchased their home for $80,000, a mile and a half from Manahawkin Bay. Their 1920s one-story, 850-square-foot home sat about 3 feet off the ground.
Since Cedar Run Creek runs directly behind the “bungalow in the meadow,” the Julianos were thinking of ways to protect their new home. In November 2009, they obtained building permits to begin construction to elevate the home against any possible storm damage.
Working directly with building officials throughout the process, the Julianos were able to finish a home that Sandy would test in less than three years.
The rebuilt bungalow is supported by piles driven into the ground and is elevated to the Base Flood Elevation plus an additional foot of freeboard.
Because the bungalow’s lower level is below Base Flood Elevation, township codes required the use of flood resistant materials. After Sandy, the lower level of the home had waist-high water an eighth of an inch of mud on the floor and marsh grass on the walls, but required only minor cleanup.
“Building to code, the only thing we had to do for the lower level was clean up—and cleanup was painless,” Juliano said.
“Anything built below Base Flood Elevation had to be able to be submerged underwater for 72 hours without damage—and that’s what we used,” builder Mark Hayek said. “The building officials gave us a technical bulletin from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to see what materials could be used below the Base Flood Elevation.”
Since areas below the Base Flood Elevation have limited coverage by flood insurance, FEMA recommends these areas should only be used for parking, storage and access, and be built with flood damage resistant materials.
“Based on what I saw down the street, we sustained the least amount of damage out of everybody and there are nearly 50 homes on this street,” Juliano said. “We’re also the newest construction on the street.”
“I was mad at first,” Juliano admitted, “but I see now that enforcing higher building standards is extremely worth it!”
To find out more information on building regulations, freeboard and Base Flood Elevations, contact your local officials.
To find more information on building codes visit: http://www.fema.gov/building-science/building-code-resources.
To find more information on wind-resistant building and other coastal construction design information visit: http://www.fema.gov/residential-coastal-construction and http://www.region2coastal.com.
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