Going Up To Get Flood Insurance Costs Down

By Jean Mikle, Asbury Park Press, N.J.
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Feb. 12--Less than three months after superstorm Sandy flooded his Coolidge Avenue home in Ortley Beach with nearly 3 feet of water, William Rumbolo and his wife, Debra, hired a Pennsylvania company to elevate their house.

"I didn't want to wait," said Rumbolo, 42, a lifelong Ortley Beach resident who grew up in a brick house two doors down from his current home.

Since the storm, the Rumbolos and their two children have been living in a rented home on the mainland in Toms River, but they are eager to return to Ortley.

Wolfe House & Building Movers, whose headquarters is located near Reading, Pa., jacked up the Rumbolos' two-story, three-bedroom home and rested it on steel girders while workers built a new concrete-block foundation consisting of pillars stabilized with metal rebar.

When they finished lowering the house back onto the new foundation in mid-January, the Rumbolos' home was 11 feet up, above the 8-foot level recommended in the advisory flood maps released in December by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The house had been raised about 4 feet.

"I thought a little bit more would be better," said Rumbolo, whose house has become a mini tourist attraction in storm-battered Ortley. He said he's handed out more than 150 fliers to homeowners seeking information about raising their own storm-damaged homes.

The foundation of Rumbolo's house also has a new breakaway wall, designed to collapse during flooding and allow water to pass under the house without undermining the foundation.

The cost of elevating the house?

About $22,000 -- money that the Rumbolos, who had flood insurance, hope to recoup from FEMA's Increased Cost of Compliance program, which provides up to $30,000 for flood mitigation projects to homeowners who had flood insurance and whose houses were substantially damaged by the storm.

Rumbolo estimates that work replacing windows, damaged drywall, rebuilding the deck and building a new front staircase, will bring the total cost of the project to about $60,000.

He hopes to do a lot of the work himself.

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Nate Buckingham, site foreman for Wolfe, said the company has lifted many houses over the past several years, in areas like Long Beach Township, the Chesapeake Bay, the Delaware Bay and along the Susquehanna River. He said the company has received hundreds of calls from interested homeowners since Sandy struck.

"This particular house, we were only here about two days," Buckingham said of the Rumbolo home.


(c)2013 Asbury Park Press (Neptune, N.J.)

Visit the Asbury Park Press (Neptune, N.J.) at www.app.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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