The state will establish a loan fund for shoreline residents who want to raise their homes out of the flood zone. Thousands of shoreline homes and businesses were damaged or destroyed by flooding just one year ago, during Superstorm Sandy. And for many, that was a second time around, after Tropical Storm Irene the year before.
Governor Dannel Malloy said retreating from the shoreline is not an option. "We're not going to get people to move away from the coast," he said. "And by the way: if we did, it would be devastating to our economy. So the best investment we can make is in resiliency."
Malloy was announcing the establishment of a loan fund that will offer low rates to homeowners and small business people who want to do the work of raising their properties up or otherwise waterproofing them. It'll get off the ground initially with $2 million from the budget of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, but Malloy wants the legislature to boost the fund to $25 million during its next session. Malloy estimates the average cost to raise a home may be around $100,000. "I think the need is probably substantially greater than $25 million," he said, "but we'll see. I think that this is a beginning."
The initiative is welcomed in shoreline communities, which are now facing redrawn flood maps and skyrocketing insurance rates. State Representative James Albis from East Haven said Congress has been paying attention to the impact of the recent storms on coastal communities. "They've made some major changes to the national flood insurance program," he said, "which could raise shoreline homeowners premiums astronomically. For many homeowners and families, those premiums will be simply unaffordable."
Raising homes may work well for individual owners, but the fund is bound to face questions about whether the state should be tying up dollars to keep homes near a changing and increasingly vulnerable coastline.