Jeannie and Gabrielle Kanterezhi-Gatto were desperate to move back into their home. The couple and their two children have lived with another family since Sandy soaked their one-story home two blocks from the water's edge. They paid a contractor to begin tearing down moldy walls and rewiring electricity, only to learn that their home would be too low, according to the new maps.
Jeannie was close to tears as she left the community development office with her family.
"The town is saying, 'If you don't elevate your home, there will be higher flood insurance,' " she says. "Now we don't know what to do. We can't afford to raise the home. Where am I supposed to come up with this money?"
Her partner is a mental-health counselor, but the limbo is testing Jeannie's limits. It is difficult to be a guest for more than two months, she says. Also, the storm destroyed the second family car, which makes it hard to get around. She would love to just leave Toms River and start fresh – but she wonders who would buy a moldy home that needs to be hoisted up on pilings.
Mackle of the zoning office worries about residents like the Kanterezhi-Gattos.
"Officials in Louisiana towns that were hit by Katrina are dealing with that issue," he says. "If you don't get people and businesses back in their homes quickly, they don't come back. It was a real problem for people in the Gulf, and it could be here."
FEMA officials have heard complaints about affordability. But the government can no longer pay for the floods in coastal towns without raising rates.