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52 Residents Interested in FEMA Grants

Homeowners are waiting to see what money is available to have flood-prone homes elevated or purchased as open space.

Mary Spekhart has lived in her home at the end of Normandy Road in the Pine Brook section of the township for 45 years. She never sold the house because she likes living there.

But after her home flooded following Hurricane Irene for the fourth time since 2007, she said she is ready to sell.

"This one really pushed me to the limits," she said.

Township Administrator Frank Bastone said 52 Montville residents returned surveys, due last Friday, expressing interest in federal grants to have their homes purchased as open space or elevated to mitigate further flooding.

Spekhart said she is one of the residents who said they were interested in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. The program provides funding to states and municipalities to implement long-term hazard mitigation measures after major disaster declarations.

About 300 houses in town that were affected by the storm were notified about the program.

Across the street from Spekhart, James Whelan said he doesn't plan on selling his house, where he has lived 37 years, and did not return the survey saying he was interested in the program. After Hurricane Irene, his home flooded for the first time, he said.

"Thirty-seven years. One flood. Come on," Whelan said.

But while it was the first time his house flooded, Hatfield Creek sometimes overflows and washes away his yard. He said he would like to have it filled back in.

On Lancaster Avenue, Jim Parodi said his wife returned the survey saying they were interested.

"We will see what happens," he said. But he's not expecting much to come from it. "I think it's an exercise in futility."

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