After Ida, are you reconsidering New Jersey flood risks?
On August 29, 2021, Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana. It was the second most destructive hurricane to hit the US, following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. In just a few days, Ida’s path of destruction made its way 1,300 miles north to New Jersey. When it finally dissipated, 30 New Jersey residents were dead. Damages across the Northeast were estimated at $24 billion, with only $5 billion - $8 billion of that covered by insurance.
What parts of New Jersey are most at risk for flooding?
The famous Jersey Shore runs for about 140 miles along the Atlantic Ocean. People love to come here on a sunny day, but when the storm clouds roll in, the potential for flooding is not so enjoyable. New Jersey’s top cities at risk for flood can be found along the coast.
Key New Jersey Cities at Risk for Flooding
According to a 2020 report from the First Street Foundation, these New Jersey cities have the most properties at risk of flooding:
Ocean City: 17,255 properties
Toms River: 11,675 properties
Sea Isle City: 11,495 properties
Avalon: 10,055 properties
Atlantic City: 9,726 properties
Brick Township: 9,041 properties
Browns Mills: 7,195 properties
Camden: 7,000 properties
Newark: 6,790 properties
Trenton: 6,405 properties
It’s not just the Jersey Shore that is at risk for flooding
It’s important to note that not all of these areas are along the coast, reinforcing the idea that all geographies have the potential to flood. According to Shawn LaTourette, commissioner of New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection, the state is definitely seeing flooding in areas that haven’t seen it before.
In New Jersey, a key factor behind flash flooding is something call impervious cover. According to a study by the USDA Forest Service:
…impervious cover plays an important role in the landscape, particularly in developed areas. These surfaces, such as roads, buildings, sidewalks, and parking lots, facilitate transportation and provide shelter, but also can negatively impact the environment…
According to the report, impervious cover makes it difficult for water to percolate into the ground. When a highly developed urban area with a high ratio of impervious cover – like New Jersey – is hit with sudden, heavy rainfall, that water has no place to drain and you have a flash flood at your feet.
Ida is just the latest storm in a history of devastating New Jersey floods
According to the National Weather Service, New Jersey is no stranger to the destruction wrought by flooding:
The Passaic River Flood of 1903
More than 10 inches of rain fell, causing flooding primarily along the Passaic River, but also swelling its tributaries. Seven bridges were destroyed, and more than 1,000 residents were displaced. Given the development that has occurred in the Passaic floodplain in the last century and the 20,000 homes and businesses now situated there, a similar flood today is estimated to cause $3 billion in damage.
The Delaware River Flood of 1955
In August 1955, Hurricanes Diane and Connie hit the Eastern U.S., only days apart. Combined, the storms dropped up to 20 inches of rain across the Delaware Basin. Over 100 people were killed. The death toll would’ve been higher if not for the Navy helicopters that evacuated 600 Boy and Girl Scouts from local island campgrounds.
The Raritan River Flood of 1999
The aftermath of Hurricane Floyd dumped more than 8 inches of rain in 12 of New Jersey’s 21 counties. Fortunately, there were only four fatalities, but more than half a million customers were without power, and the National Guard was called in to assist, with approximately 10,000 people evacuated across the state.
Tropical Storm Irene, 2011
Irene arrived in New Jersey as a hurricane but was downgraded to a tropical storm when it finally made landfall. This was the first hurricane in a century to hit the New Jersey coast directly from the Atlantic, and it was the state’s largest rainstorm in as much time. It was also the first instance of a mandatory evacuation of Atlantic City, forcing the casinos to close and driving residents inland. When the storm clouds had passed, seven people had been killed and over $1 billion in damages were sustained.
Superstorm Sandy, 2012
Major evacuations throughout the state began when meteorologists predicted Sandy. Dubbed a “superstorm”, Sandy didn’t have the structure of a hurricane, but its winds battered 1,000 miles of the U.S. coastline. According to National Geographic:
Sandy is considered the fourth most expensive storm in U.S. history, and more than 600,000 housing units were destroyed in New Jersey and New York. The government of New York City estimates that $19 billion in damage was inflicted on the city alone. Five years after Sandy, more than a thousand New Jersey residents reported still being unable to return home.
Much of the damage was the result of record storm surges along the coast, with a maximum of 14 feet at Sandy Hook.
Preparing for future floods in New Jersey
There was some disagreement among forecasters as to Sandy’s trajectory, and many did not expect it to strike the U.S. coast as hard as it did. After Sandy, New Jersey and New York officials began to look at improving infrastructure, to lessen the blow of future extreme weather events. Similarly, more homeowners and business owners reexamined their preparedness, as well as their ability to recover financially after a major storm.
Recovering from a flood can be expensive without insurance. One inch of water can cause $25,000.00 worth of damage to a home. According to FEMA, 3 million properties in New Jersey are not covered by the NFIP, and the average NFIP payout in New Jersey within the last ten years was $47,700. Considering New Jersey’s history with floods, your clients should strongly consider flood insurance.
What are the options for flood insurance in New Jersey?
There are many options available through the NFIP or private flood insurance market. EZ Flood® from Aon Edge allows you to create custom flood insurance plans for your clients. Instead of relying on the standardized NFIP, you can choose deduction and coverage options.
For example, with EZ Flood®, you can offer coverage beyond the NFIP maximum, which is important for homes worth more than the NFIP maximum of $250,000. EZ Flood® also offers options for additional living expense, food spoilage, and pool cleanup.
And with Risk Rating 2.0 going into effect, your clients using the NFIP may be facing a spike in their flood insurance premiums over the next few years. EZ Flood® rates are unaffected by Risk Rating 2.0, and may offer your client savings in addition to flexibility.
We’re excited to work with you to adapt to these evolving changes and new landscapes and urge you to get in touch with questions.
This article is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended to provide individualized advice. All descriptions, summaries or highlights of coverage are for general informational purposes only and do not amend, alter or modify the actual terms or conditions of any insurance policy. Coverage is governed only by the terms and conditions of the relevant policy.