Because the Weisses’ house was “substantially damaged” during Sandy and had to be razed — and their property is in an area that was flooded — their new home must be constructed according to strict building regulations to guard against possible future floods, FEMA rules state.
The Weisses must drive 36 helical steel pilings nearly 30 feet into the ground. David likened the pilings to “giant crayons with fins” that should hold the house in place in a flood. They must also raise their home six feet. Before the flood, its base was three feet below grade, so when the new home is built, it will be three feet above grade.
The Weisses cannot receive a building permit until the pilings are in the ground. An engineer must oversee the project, at a cost of $1,000 per day. Before they receive a building permit, they will have spent an estimated $50,000 to prepare their property for construction.
Their SBA loan will enable them to get the project started, but they noted that not everyone can afford to take on debt to rebuild, and so many people in their situation have abandoned their homes. “There are horror stories,” Rona said. “You listen to these stories and you just want to cry.
“As bad as it is,” she added, “at least we had a little money and found a place” to rent until the new home is built.