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Crews work on the beach in Brant Beach in spring of 2012.

  This coming September, LBI will be a part of a Beach Replenishment project that will fortify the beaches on the Island that were not fortified after SuperStorm Sandy. This is good news, as the beach areas that were fortified before the storm fared much better than those that were not. For this reason, these projects are scheduled all up and down the Jersey Shore this year. The history of these projects is certainly full of controversy, along with lawsuits, town meetings, etc. But after we saw the benefits of a replenished beach, there has not been as much resistance to these projects. There was some concern that this project would begin earlier, and would be going on throughout the busy Summer Season. After a down Summer last Season in the wake of Sandy, the concern was that this would cause another year of declining tourism revenue. Rentals so far are ahead of the pace of the beginning of 2012, before the storm. That, coupled with the news of the replenishment project starting in Sept., should make for a great Summer of 2014!
When the Biggert-Waters Flood Act was passed last July, very few knew that it would take over a year for some of the major provisions of the bill to kick in. In fact, some of the changes were not even announced until almost a year after the bill passed, and less than 6 months from the time many of the provision go into affect. October 1st, 2013 is one of the dates where some major changes are set to go into affect. There are a few provisions that go into affect as of Oct 1, but the ones that will affect the most people are the Elevation Certificate requirement on all Flood Insurance Policies, and the elimination of subsidized rates for Pre-FIRM (Flood Insurance Rate Map) homes. From here on out, Flood Insurance rates will be based on the actual elevation of the house (actuarial rate), no matter if it was built before or after the Rate Map was released in the mid-70’s. Until now, Pre-Firm homes were allowed to keep their subsidized rates. However, as of Oct 1, 2013, Non-Primary Homes (under 80% occupancy per year), will no longer be allowed to keep their subsidized rates, and will see an increase of 25% per year until the actuarial rate is achieved. The actuarial rate for a home is pre-set by the National Flood Insurance Program and is based on the elevation of the house, which is why Elevation Certificates are now required. Primary homeowners will get to keep their subsidized rates as long as they keep their policy. As of Oct 1, 2013, however, once they let the policy lapse, assign the policy, or for any new policy, the actuarial rate will begin from day one, and will not be phased in at the 25% per year pace. But that news is not all bad, as in many cases, the actuarial rate is less expensive under the new law. For example, the actuarial rate before Biggert-Waters for a Single Story Pre-Firm home that is in an AE Flood Zone, is at Base Flood Elevation and without an Elevation Certificate is $3,600 per year. Under the new law, that same house will now have an actuarial rate of $1,815. If that same house is 4 ft above Base Flood Elevation, the actuarial rate under the new law will be $553 per year. So its important to get an Elevation Certificate to determine the Base Flood Elevation. In many cases, rates will not go up that much, if at all. There are some other changes that take affect on Oct 1, 2013 as well. For example, all Business Owners that are using subsidized rates will now see a 25% rate increase per yer until the actuarial rate is achieved. The same goes for properties that are deemed to be severe repetitive loss properties, who have had sever flood damage multiple times. Also the limit on the amount rates can go up each year was raised from 10%-20%, plus there will be an additional 5% fee charged to all Flood Policies the set up a Reserve Fund. It is very important to speak with your Insurance agent to determine the affect the changes will have on you. The best advice right now is to get an Elevation Certificate. Then you will get a true picture of what needs to be done, if anything, to keep your Flood Insurance rates low.
The amount of mis-information circulating LBI in the aftermath of Super Storm Sandy is mind boggling! We know it is important to be well informed so we hope the following documented information will help you in planning your next visit to beautiful Long Beach Island. FICTION: There are no grocery stores opening for the summer on LBI. FACT: Both Wawa’s, 7-11 in Ship Bottom & the ACME are open NOW! Murphy’s is scheduled to open in mid-May. FICTION: The bay is polluted with debris (houses, cars, boats, sheds, hot tubs, etc.) and there will be no fishing, sailing, kayaking, this summer FACT: The bay waters along LBI did not sustain nearly the amount of pollution from such items as our neighbors to the north. Of course there was some but clean-up is well underway and even the clam beds have been given the green light for harvesting. FICTION: There will be little or no beach access and the beaches are also full of debris. FACT: Beach clean-up and grooming began in November and has been ongoing. The local mayors assure us the beaches will be fully guarded and good to go by opening day. FICTION: Only a handful of restaurants are opening. It will be impossible to get into any of them. FACT: Most of the restaurants that are normally open in the winter are open now. Many more are scheduled to open this month. Space actually prohibits listing all of them but more than likely your favorite will be ready for you when you arrive. FICTION:Fantasy Island was wiped out; the Ferris wheel is in the bay. FACT: No no no! That was the roller coaster in the ocean in Seaside Heights. Fantasy Island is alive and well and the arcade is open on weekends now. The rides are just fine and will open on schedule. FICTION: So many businesses were wiped out, there won’t be anything to do. FACT: There are 1/2 dozen stores in Bay Village open weekends now; the rest will follow as we get closer to the season. Schooner’s Wharf sits high and was not affected. The Surflight Theater has their summer program set. Beach Haven has scheduled their concerts in the park series. Ice Cream, pizza and shopping will be plentiful! Hopefully this dispels some rumors and makes you feel better about planning your stay on LBI. If you have specific questions about your favorite spots, give us a call. We’ll be glad to speak with you and answer whatever concerns you may have. See you on the beach!

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