Community Boosts Future Flood Resilience during Post-Sandy Recovery

Post-Superstorm Sandy proved to be an ideal time for the Brigantine Island community to implement comprehensive flood-resilience plans. Actions included elevating the only road on and off the island; improving zoning and floodplain ordinances; replacing a major city well; and building and strengthening barriers around the island’s bayside and oceanfront. Officials also increased freeboard requirements above and beyond what the state requires. (Freeboard refers to the mandated height above a structure’s high-water mark.) Houses where base flood elevation is nine feet are now required to have three feet of freeboard. Houses with base flood elevation of 10 or 11 feet must have two feet of freeboard.

These actions enabled the City of Brigantine Beach to upgrade their Community Resilience Rating from a 6 to a 5, qualifying for insurance rate reductions under the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Flood Insurance Program. Future resilience steps will include an early-warning system for tidal flooding and a reverse 911 system to alert residents when their property is at risk from a storm.

NOAA played a role in these efforts. The “Getting to Resilience” self-evaluation process facilitated by the Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve helped city officials understand their resilience strengths and weaknesses as well as their planning needs. Digital Coast sea level rise maps helped officials understand future flooding risks. Many post-Sandy grants from local, state, and federal sources also supported the resilience efforts.

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Partners: Atlantic County Long-Term Recovery Group, BrigStrong, City of Brigantine Beach, Coastal Coalition, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation , New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, New Jersey Economic Development Authority, New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust, New Jersey Governor’s Office of Rebuilding and Recovery, U.S. Department of the Interior