Christie urges owners of Sandy-ravaged homes to explore buyout options

SOUTH RIVER – Gov. Chris Christie stressed Tuesday during his visit to this working-class, blue-collar community in Middlesex County that all Sandy-related buyouts are voluntary and there is still time to apply.

There is an overall goal to buy out 1,300 homes this year, he said in announcing buyout offers regarding homes that are in the vicinity of Water and Lee streets.

In May, the federal government approved $300 million for a program to buy out homes in areas prone to chronic flooding. The administration is targeting the damaged areas and is trying to get a hold of full neighborhoods, rather than a patchwork of homes, in order to take down the bought-out homes and convert the areas to floodplain or passive recreation space.

Of 85 home applications sent to FEMA for buyouts, 76 homes are from South River and another nine are from Sayreville. Last month, the administration announced it would purchase 129 homes in Sayreville with FEMA aid at a total cost of $39 million. First formal offers were made this week, he said.  

The administration is also looking to buy out severely damaged homes in neighborhoods in Woodbridge and Old Bridge. Of the 1,300 homes the administration hopes to buy out, 1,000 will be ones that suffered severe damage from Superstorm Sandy last year and the other 300 homes are mostly in the Passaic River Basin that incurred damage from other storms, such as Hurricane Irene in August 2011.

A total of 365,000 homes incurred some kind of damage from Sandy.

Christie said interested homeowners can call the Department of Environmental Protection at 609-984-0500.

Christie urges owners of Sandy-ravaged homes to explore buyout options