Many coastal cities and towns slammed by Hurricane Sandy have done little to protect themselves from flood damage, ignoring federal incentives even as they have been flooded repeatedly, a USA TODAY analysis of federal records shows.
More than 100 municipalities in areas that were declared a federal emergency this week have received the worst ratings from Washington under a program that rewards communities for trying to minimize flood damage.
Roughly 1,000 communities across the U.S. have won discounts of 10% or more for their property owners through the program.
But in New Jersey, for example, coastal communities such as Sea Bright, Lacey, Barnegat and Ocean Township get no discounts because they took either minimal or no flood-prevention action and received the worst insurance rating, federal records show. Those communities have more than 6,000 insured properties worth $1.4 billion, records show, and they have sustained major damage over the years.
Property owners in the four towns have filed 2,500 claims against FEMA’s flood-insurance program since 1978, receiving $26 million in payments, the records show.
Atlantic City, which was hit hard by Sandy and is one of the biggest cities on the Jersey shore, has the second-lowest insurance rating, earning its 8,100 property owners only a 5% discount. . .