BRIGANTINE, N.J. (AP) -- A low-lying barrier island community north of Atlantic City is the first to be awarded state aid since Superstorm Sandy to help residents elevate their homes.
New Jersey officials announced Friday they have approved housing-elevation grants for 26 properties in Brigantine.
The application process closed last fall, and the Department of Environmental Protection continues to review more than 3,000 applications from homeowners in nearly 100 municipalities.
The funds, from the state's Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, will be used to reimburse property owners for engineering, construction and other costs to raise their homes to protect the property from storms and flooding.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency drew up new flood maps after Sandy and required owners in storm-prone areas to elevate their homes. Those who do not will face greatly increased insurance premiums.
"In addition to moving people and property out of harm's way, elevating homes will reduce flood insurance premiums for homeowners by helping them comply with FEMA flood maps," DEP Commissioner Bob Martin said Friday.
The state has committed $100 million in FEMA money to elevate about 2,700 primary residences in the nine counties that were deemed most affected by Sandy: Atlantic, Bergen, Cape May, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean and Union.
Eligible recipients will be awarded up to $30,000 for the work and will be reimbursed after it's completed.
More than half of those who applied for the state aid are in Ocean and Monmouth counties.
Homeowners who have received grants from the state's Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation program are not eligible for elevation grants.