KEANSBURG - More homeowners will be receiving grants that will help them "rise above" damage from Superstorm Sandy, according to an announcement from Gov. Chris Christie.
The governor, who was in Keansburg Monday, says 132 more federal Hazard Mitigation Grant Program awards have been granted to New Jersey homeowners to help cover the costs of elevation.
Keansburg is one of 29 towns getting a boost from the program, which is intended to raise homes above flood level in the aftermath of the superstorm.
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Sandy flooding nearly wiped out Robert and Linda Patterson's home. Now almost two years later, they hope to be back in their house by the end of the summer.
Mayor Tom Foley says the hope is that the grants will allow communities like Keansburg to stay together. "Our biggest goal was to get all the homeowners and residents back," he says. "That's the anchor of this town. That's what makes this town great."
Not everyone has chosen to come home. The state's blue acres program has seen a jump in buyouts. "We've already closed on 140 of those homes," says Commissioner Bob Martin, of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. "In addition, we have 900 homes currently in the pipeline for buyouts as well, including homes here in Keansburg."
There are still about 600 elevation applications yet to be processed, but Gov. Christie says there's enough money to pay them out if they're approved.
Homeowners with federal flood insurance can get grants of up to $30,000 to raise their homes to comply with the new standards.
Under the state's elevation program, homeowners must pay for the work in advance, but then can get reimbursed for the costs associated with it, including permits, engineering and construction.