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'We Did The Best We Could,' Mayor Says of Township's Hurricane Preparation

Mayor reacts to USA Today analysis that suggested Lacey had a poor FEMA rating for flood preparation

Despite a report that suggested Lacey Township has one of the worst FEMA ratings for flood preparation, the township was ready, Mayor Mark Dykoff said.

According to the USA Today analysis, Lacey Township "ignored federal incentives" to reduce flood damage, "even as they have been flooded repeatedly." This inaction may lead to extra costs to taxpayers for disaster relief, higher premiums for those with federal flood insurance and lost discounts for property owners.

“I don’t have an explanation at this point in time,” Dykoff said of why Lacey would disregard federal incentives. “The proof is in the pudding.”

Compared to some communities that were completely devastated by Hurricane Sandy, Lacey fared well, he said.

“We fared so much better because of the preparation we did,” he said. “I feel we followed proper protocol with the county… we did the best we could. We still have people suffering, homeless and without power.”

The township utilized bulkheads to mitigate flooding in some areas, he said. Preparation was done to the drainage system and the lakes were lowered.

More than 100 municipalities that were declared a federal emergency after Hurricane Sandy struck received poor ratings under a program that rewards those towns for trying to minimize flood damage, the analysis said.

Through that program, approximately 1,000 municipalities across the country have received discounts of 10 percent or more, USA Today found.

In addition to Lacey, Barnegat, Sea Bright and Ocean Township took either minimal or no flood-prevention actions, receiving the worst insurance ratings. Those communities alone have more than 6,000 insured properties worth $1.4 billion that have sustained major flooding damage over the years, the analysis shows. Since 1978, property owners in those municipalities have filed 2,500 claims against FEMA’s flood-insurance program, receiving $26 million in payments.

The USA Today article noted that towns often ignore federal flood-mitigation plans "because they fear restricting development and don't want to spend the money."

“It has to do with when you apply for grants,” Dykoff said. “So much is put into applying for those grants, it’s not worth it…we fared, head and shoulders, better than (other municipalities) did.”

Other municipalities that received the worst FEMA or a “10” rating included Tuckerton. Point Pleasant Beach, Point Pleasant and Toms River received a “9.” Seaside Park received an “8.” Seaside Heights had no rating and Mantoloking had one of the best ratings at “6.” For more on the ratings, see USA Today’s interactive map.

Years ago Berkeley and Stafford Townships sustained extreme damage after a major rain event, Dykoff said.

“Their townships had been devastated because of a lack of planning,” Dykoff said. “Is there room for improvement? Yes, there is. We’ll look into it.”

Barnegat Mayor Al Cirulli told Patch that he would "match up with any town in this state," in terms of preparedness for Sandy. "We had our shelters open, did our evacuation. No fatalities, no serious injuries. The rest was on nature."

He said early estimates are the township "lost one home" on the bayfront, and others need some work. But Cirulli added, "when you live on a lagoon, and the tide comes in over 9 feet, of course there are going to be problems." 

Dykoff could not say how many homes were lost throughout Lacey Township’s waterfront communities as a result of Sandy’s storm surge. An evaluation is being done now.

The waterfront communities such as the Forked River Beach area did sustain “devastating flood damage,” he said.

“I’m more worried about getting back on our feet. Our concern right now is to get people’s power back on,” Dykoff said. “Then we’ll do a reassessment of what took place and our actions.”

Since Sandy, Dykoff has been working with FEMA to get residents the help that they need, he said. FEMA representatives have been in town.

“The amount of people who applied for FEMA is kind of low. They need to begin the process,” Dykoff said.

Residents can visit www.disasterassistance.gov, apply via smartphone at m.fema.gov or call 1-800-621-3362.

WhyohWhy November 08, 2012 at 03:21 PM
I think USA Today, should mind their own damn business. Better yet rather then put out a newspaper take that manpower and put it to constructive use!!!
isthatallugot November 08, 2012 at 04:17 PM
The USA Today article noted that towns often ignore federal flood-mitigation plans "because they fear restricting development and don't want to spend the money." This is the key sentence in this whole article. This is why we have a "poor" rating. The politicians in Lacey are ALL about lining THEIR pockets at OUR expense!!!!!
Shamrock1 November 08, 2012 at 04:39 PM
Did Lacey even have a shelter open?
Martin ODonnell November 08, 2012 at 04:49 PM
All I can say is that Lacey PD is awesome. I live on Capstan and they put an officer on the end of the street to deter looters and they did an awesome job. Thak you Lacey PD. The public works department also did an outstanding job cleaning up the mud ridden streets....Thank you Lacey Public Works!
Giant fan November 08, 2012 at 05:00 PM
Shelters are dictated by the County and Red Cross. Shelters are opened in area which can easily be accessed regionally and which can accomadate the most people, The County shelters were Toms River H.S Southern Regional H.S. Pinelands Middle School, Jackson Liberty H.S.
CWRElect November 08, 2012 at 06:25 PM
CWR Electronics in Bayville has a large supply of FREE, MOVING-SIZE cardboard boxes for anyone who needs to salvage home items or package donations. Please email TeamCWR (at) cwrelectronics.com for more info.
Proud lacey resident November 08, 2012 at 08:01 PM
The Methodist church on Lacey Road set up a Shelter that is still open to Lacey residents. Our citizens have done a wonderful job finding those in need and providing aid. We have an awesome community that cares about each other. Thank you.
Bill Erikson November 08, 2012 at 08:25 PM
USA Today actually has reporters on the ground? In our area no less? I thought Gannett fired them all years ago. From what I can tell, Gannett, which owns the Asbury Park Press, was strictly taking all their news off the AP wire.
Pamela Brown ♥ November 08, 2012 at 10:36 PM
A sad day for our town. No...no school / public building opened for residents - who were under mandatory evacuation! I was told by clerks office bc county or red cross hadn't designated lacey as a shelter (with almost 30K people in town!) She explained the way to get the generator donated was through red cross....I asked why didn't we set up our own shelter? w/ nice cots too... Maybe @ Lacey High School...w/ the solar power already on the roof? That the taxpayers The good people came through - the police, the firemen, our emt's. The churches came through and the Lacey Elks...and the local Little League...and neighbors came through...So yes, I am shocked we had no shelter for the elderly. I wonder if the the 4 elderly who died could not drive to another town for shelter? Toms River Southern Regional H.S. 13 miles Pinelands Middle School, 21 miles Jackson Liberty H.S. 24 miles Prayers for all~
Silver dollar November 08, 2012 at 10:53 PM
If it took 34 years to get 26 million in payments . Lets see how much in payments Seaside heights now. with no rating and mantoloking with the best rating get now Guess. They were a good part of the system till now . what is left of there towns Were they as well prepared as Lacey It sure don't look like it Remember don't always believe what you read in the paper Good Job Lacey government.
Pamela Brown ♥ November 09, 2012 at 12:26 PM
our town can and should mandate it's own shelter. smh...
JOHNNY Done it November 10, 2012 at 04:18 AM
To giant fan The oem could request for a shelter in the town.. It is pretty sad that we did not have one or a transfer station to record Or have family pick them up.Instead ship them out of town, .get a grant for a generator at the high school or get one for the UM church on lacey road since they did the sheltering & feeding of local & out of town residence. The high school is easily accessed & is large enough plenty of parking
John November 11, 2012 at 01:11 PM
FAILURE OF THE OEM!!!! Thank god for the church!! The church was better prepared then Lacey township officals and OEM!! Maybe its time to get the right trained people in these positions instead of who's who of the good-ole-boys..., wait its Lacey Township/Ocean County what am I thinking!
John November 11, 2012 at 01:12 PM
yep!!
John November 11, 2012 at 01:17 PM
NO!!! They had no interest in developing a plan that was told to them years ago by an ex-member of one of the first aid squads. If I remember right at one time he held a high position with the Red Cross in their disaster response team..., but hey why should they listen to people who are trained in Shelter stuff and emergency management stuff when they can listen to the good-ole-boys!! Glad I am with the department I am now its run by trained people and not good-ole-boys/click people! Its said to say we are lucky only one in this town died but, we shoudl have not had any ONE IS JUST TO MANY!!!
John November 11, 2012 at 01:25 PM
@Pamela..., one thing I have learned over this storm is the town has to go to the Red Cross to have something designated a shelter and it has to be done before a storm because, they need to come in and inspect it. So, this isn't a failure of the Red Cross its a failure of the OEM & the elected but mainly OEM because, shelters are their job to set up!
JOHNNY Done it November 11, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Time to replace the OEM in this town the first responders in this town would have done there thing no matter what emergency would have happened ,they did a great job. OEM failed to provide shelter for twp residents or a workable plan The local churches did a better job than a government agency...Its the people that were not getting paid did the back bone of the work ..
Jay Burnett January 12, 2013 at 07:29 PM
YEs, Pastor Linda Applegate opened up the doors to the Methodist Church and sheltered and fed people 3 x a day for weeks and still has a few families left to go. She even took in their pets, an important thing, because many people will not leave them to die.
lacey voter January 12, 2013 at 08:54 PM
The people that don't get paid always do all the work..Yet the TC treats the police like gods..Jesus H. ****** they are getting paid 100k a year..But the idiots in town will still vote in the same people that are behind on their local tax bill

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