Morris County’s flood mitigation program turned ten years old in March. The initiative has led to the purchase of 84 flood-prone properties that have been restored to open spaces.
The Morris County flood mitigation program hit a milestone in March, turning ten years old.
The program, operating since 2012 through Morris County Open Space, Farmland, and Historic Preservation Trust, helps towns obtain flood-prone lots from willing sellers.
The county funds go directly to the municipalities, which purchase properties in flood-prone areas from willing sellers and maintain the land as public open space.
So far, the Morris County program has obtained 84 flood-prone properties that have been restored to open space.
“Ten years ago, our board decided to take a sliver of our taxpayer approved open space dollars and dedicate them to buying out flood-prone properties. Right out of the gate, the program won two environmental awards from the State of New Jersey for its innovation. It hadn’t been done before,” said Stephen H. Shaw, a member of the Morris County Board of County Commissioners and liaison to the Morris County Office of Planning and Preservation, which manages the program.
The idea: by removing homes and restoring properties to open space, the land can better absorb floodwaters and protect other nearby properties from flooding.
The program also creates more public open spaces, claims to help constantly flooded homeowners relocate, and potentially eases burdens on first responders who must occasionally rescue people from these flood-prone properties.
To date, the program has allocated $9.6 million toward obtaining properties in eight Morris County towns.
- Boonton Town – 2 properties
- Denville – 11 properties
- Lincoln Park – 32 properties
- Morristown – 1 property
- Parsippany-Troy Hills – 20 properties
- Long Hill – 7 properties
- Pequannock – 9 properties
- Riverdale – 2 properties
“The Morris County Flood Mitigation Program has been involved in the purchase of 84 properties, with towns using the county funds in conjunction with other funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the New Jersey Green Acres/Blue Acres program and, in some cases, municipal contributions.” – Press Release, Morris County
Five of the 84 properties were in the flood-prone Midwood Road section of Lincoln Park, next to the banks of the Pompton River. In recent years, a total of 20 homes were purchased, removed, and returned to natural lands in this flood-prone area of the Pompton River.
On April 7, 2022, this area was underwater once more after heavy rains hit northern New Jersey leaving many riverside properties in Morris County flooded. However, along Midwood Road, there were 20 fewer structures underwater allowing the river waters to be more quickly absorbed.
On average, for every $1 spent by the county’s flood mitigation program, there have been $7 in benefits to the participating towns, according to the Office of Planning and Preservation.
The Flood Mitigation Program is structured with two basic funding tracks, according to Program Coordinator Virginia Michelin:
- The Match Program offers up to a 25 percent county match to state and federal buyouts.
- The CORE Program is designed to catch homes that have fallen through other agencies’ funding nets, with Morris County providing up to 75 percent of the acquisition costs.
Grant applications are considered by the county Flood Mitigation Committee from municipalities on behalf of willing sellers. Every project is subject to a detailed benefit-cost analysis based on FEMA computer models.
For more information on Flooding in Morristown, click here.