A free seminar on how homes are elevated and what types of equipment are used will be held at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Point Pleasant Beach High School's gymnasium.
The educational program will be offered by Roderick "Rod" Scott from L & R Resources based in Mandeville, Louisiana. Scott is a Hazard Mitigation Specialist and a Historic Resource Specialist, according to a notice issued by Point Beach Business Administrator Christine Riehl.
The topics to be discussed are as follows:
1. Explaining what hazard mitigation means, when and why it should be done: This section reviews the reality of climate change and the repercussions.
2. Brief history of hazard mitigation elevation
3. Review of equipment used today
4. Review process of elevating house
5. Review tips for hiring a qualified professional structural elevation company.
The municipality is "encouraging residents and taxpayers who have questions related to these topics to attend this informative educational session," says the notice.
Scott, in a phone interview on Wednesday, said he has been approaching towns and colleges about doing the seminars on hazard mitigation and house elevations. He said he estimates there are about 30,000 homes in New Jersey that were 50 percent damaged or worse by Sandy and need to be elevated.
Last month, Scott gave four, one-hour presentations at schools in Brick Township (see attached YouTube video) and asked Point Beach if they wanted him to do a similar seminar in town.
Possible alternative to driven wood pilings
For those with flooded houses that are now in V zones, as labeled on FEMA's Advisory Base Flood Elevation maps, the prospect of possibly having to use driven wood pilings to elevate is daunting, not only due to financial considerations but also because residents on a lot of 50 by 100 feet simply have nowhere to put a house while pilings are being driven.
A possible alternative to that is to use helical pilings, a way of using steel beams to construct a new foundation while the house is hydraulically lifted. While the house is raised temporarily on wood, the new foundation is constructed and the house is lowered.
Those considering using helicals should first find out if they will be approved by their local building and code officals, as well as FEMA. (Patch tried in vain for three days to get FEMA's answer on that, but will keep trying and will post the information if it becomes available.)
Using helicals is more expensive right now than using driven pilings, but may be an option for those who have no space to rest a house while pilings are being installed, Scott said. He added that he believes that as demand increases for the helical method, more helicals will be manufactured and eventually the cost will go down.
"I don't think it will take that long for the price to go down," he said. "There's a lot of interest in this."
He said residents with homes with less than 50 percent damage can get building permits, fix their houses and live in them without elevating, but those with more than 50 percent damage have to elevate.
There may be financial assistance available from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, which just helped 200 low-income residents in Galveston Island, TX, renovate, rebuild and elevate their homes that were badly damaged by Ike, Scott said.
He said he expects local towns, as well as the state, to take a pro-active role in shepherding HUD funds, as well as Hazard Mitigation grants, to those who are eligible. He said HUD grants are based on income eligibility, with some preference for low-income, including senior citizens and disabled residents who are on fixed incomes, but that middle class residents should apply.
Company That Elevates Houses Funding the Seminar
Scott is being sponsored by Ducky Johnson House Movers, a private company based in Florida that does house elevations in seven states, including New Jersey where it was recently licensed, Scott said.
Ducky Johnson pays for Scott's travel, lodging and meals while he is doing speaking engagements in New Jersey and elsewhere last month and this month, Scott said.
Scott said that when he conducts seminars, he does not recommend, or solicit jobs for, Ducky or any other particular business.
"There's no sales or marketing in the presentation," he said. "We're just trying to educate people about elevating and hazard mitigation, several industry leaders asked me to do this," Scott said, adding he may need to look for a new sponsor for next month.
His own company was registered in Louisiana in July of 2012, according to the Louisiana Secretary of State's office. Scott said he works out of his home and does not have a company website because he simply has not needed one to have enough business.
Scott said before that he worked in sales and marketing for Expert House Movers, based in Maryland, in the sales and marketing department of Patterson Structural Moving and Shoring and before that he had worked as a contractor for 20 years, although he personally never worked on elevations.
It costs a house elevation company about $150,000 to $200,000 to pay for workers and equipment to elevate or move a house and costs a resident about $13 to $20 per foot, Scott said, declining to give estimates for the total cost because, he said, numerous factors make the costs vary widely.
Scott said he is among the many who believe that climate change is causing sea level to rise.
"There has been a sea level rise of 14 inches from 1900 to now," he said. "And the level will be three feet higher by 2100."
Riehl, the Point Beach business administrator, said the municipality does not support or endorse any private company, including those affiliated with Scott.
Links and Resources
Sandy-impacted residents should also apply for Increased Cost Compliance funds of $30,000 that can be used towards elevating and renovating flooded homes. information on ICC coverage is available through FEMA’s ICC web page. You may also call your insurance company or agent or the NFIP toll-free number at 1 800-427-4661 for assistance.
Any resident or property owner considering applying for those funds should first find out from their local building code officials if they will be committed to elevating their flooded homes even if they ultimately do not receive the funding.
For information about applying for Hazard Mitigation Grants through Point Beach, click here. For information about applying for those grants through Point Borough, click here. The grants are competitive and awards not guaranteed.
The Small Business Administration is also urging all Sandy-impacted residents and businesses to apply for low-interest loans, even if they were not flooded. For information on that, click here.
Editor's Note: On Thursday morning, FEMA sent Patch some additional information about alternate methods of elevating houses. That led to more questions. When that's sorted out, additional information will be posted. Thank you for reading Patch.