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'We Did The Best We Could,' Mayor Says of Township's Hurricane Preparation

Mayor reacts to USA Today analysis that suggested Lacey had a poor FEMA rating for flood preparation

Despite a report that suggested Lacey Township has one of the worst FEMA ratings for flood preparation, the township was ready, Mayor Mark Dykoff said.

According to the USA Today analysis, Lacey Township "ignored federal incentives" to reduce flood damage, "even as they have been flooded repeatedly." This inaction may lead to extra costs to taxpayers for disaster relief, higher premiums for those with federal flood insurance and lost discounts for property owners.

“I don’t have an explanation at this point in time,” Dykoff said of why Lacey would disregard federal incentives. “The proof is in the pudding.”

Compared to some communities that were completely devastated by Hurricane Sandy, Lacey fared well, he said.

“We fared so much better because of the preparation we did,” he said. “I feel we followed proper protocol with the county… we did the best we could. We still have people suffering, homeless and without power.”

The township utilized bulkheads to mitigate flooding in some areas, he said. Preparation was done to the drainage system and the lakes were lowered.

More than 100 municipalities that were declared a federal emergency after Hurricane Sandy struck received poor ratings under a program that rewards those towns for trying to minimize flood damage, the analysis said.

Through that program, approximately 1,000 municipalities across the country have received discounts of 10 percent or more, USA Today found.

In addition to Lacey, Barnegat, Sea Bright and Ocean Township took either minimal or no flood-prevention actions, receiving the worst insurance ratings. Those communities alone have more than 6,000 insured properties worth $1.4 billion that have sustained major flooding damage over the years, the analysis shows. Since 1978, property owners in those municipalities have filed 2,500 claims against FEMA’s flood-insurance program, receiving $26 million in payments.

The USA Today article noted that towns often ignore federal flood-mitigation plans "because they fear restricting development and don't want to spend the money."

“It has to do with when you apply for grants,” Dykoff said. “So much is put into applying for those grants, it’s not worth it…we fared, head and shoulders, better than (other municipalities) did.”

Other municipalities that received the worst FEMA or a “10” rating included Tuckerton. Point Pleasant Beach, Point Pleasant and Toms River received a “9.” Seaside Park received an “8.” Seaside Heights had no rating and Mantoloking had one of the best ratings at “6.” For more on the ratings, see USA Today’s interactive map.

Years ago Berkeley and Stafford Townships sustained extreme damage after a major rain event, Dykoff said.

“Their townships had been devastated because of a lack of planning,” Dykoff said. “Is there room for improvement? Yes, there is. We’ll look into it.”

Barnegat Mayor Al Cirulli told Patch that he would "match up with any town in this state," in terms of preparedness for Sandy. "We had our shelters open, did our evacuation. No fatalities, no serious injuries. The rest was on nature."

He said early estimates are the township "lost one home" on the bayfront, and others need some work. But Cirulli added, "when you live on a lagoon, and the tide comes in over 9 feet, of course there are going to be problems." 

Dykoff could not say how many homes were lost throughout Lacey Township’s waterfront communities as a result of Sandy’s storm surge. An evaluation is being done now.

The waterfront communities such as the Forked River Beach area did sustain “devastating flood damage,” he said.

“I’m more worried about getting back on our feet. Our concern right now is to get people’s power back on,” Dykoff said. “Then we’ll do a reassessment of what took place and our actions.”

Since Sandy, Dykoff has been working with FEMA to get residents the help that they need, he said. FEMA representatives have been in town.

“The amount of people who applied for FEMA is kind of low. They need to begin the process,” Dykoff said.

Residents can visit www.disasterassistance.gov, apply via smartphone at m.fema.gov or call 1-800-621-3362.

John November 11, 2012 at 01:17 PM
NO!!! They had no interest in developing a plan that was told to them years ago by an ex-member of one of the first aid squads. If I remember right at one time he held a high position with the Red Cross in their disaster response team..., but hey why should they listen to people who are trained in Shelter stuff and emergency management stuff when they can listen to the good-ole-boys!! Glad I am with the department I am now its run by trained people and not good-ole-boys/click people! Its said to say we are lucky only one in this town died but, we shoudl have not had any ONE IS JUST TO MANY!!!
John November 11, 2012 at 01:25 PM
@Pamela..., one thing I have learned over this storm is the town has to go to the Red Cross to have something designated a shelter and it has to be done before a storm because, they need to come in and inspect it. So, this isn't a failure of the Red Cross its a failure of the OEM & the elected but mainly OEM because, shelters are their job to set up!
JOHNNY Done it November 11, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Time to replace the OEM in this town the first responders in this town would have done there thing no matter what emergency would have happened ,they did a great job. OEM failed to provide shelter for twp residents or a workable plan The local churches did a better job than a government agency...Its the people that were not getting paid did the back bone of the work ..
Jay Burnett January 12, 2013 at 07:29 PM
YEs, Pastor Linda Applegate opened up the doors to the Methodist Church and sheltered and fed people 3 x a day for weeks and still has a few families left to go. She even took in their pets, an important thing, because many people will not leave them to die.
lacey voter January 12, 2013 at 08:54 PM
The people that don't get paid always do all the work..Yet the TC treats the police like gods..Jesus H. ****** they are getting paid 100k a year..But the idiots in town will still vote in the same people that are behind on their local tax bill

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