New Jersey is giving some of its residents a lift—about five or six feet into the air.
The state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced it would provide up to $30,000 per resident to elevate 26 homes, which were some of the hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy two years ago.
Sandy, which rocked the Jersey shore on Oct. 29, 2012, devastated 346,000 homes in New Jersey, leaving behind an estimated $37 billion in damage.
The recipients, who live in the Atlantic County coastal town of Brigantine, are the first of 630 primary homeowners expected to be announced over the next month, according to The Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which will dole out $100 million in grants through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), will aid residents with raising homes to meet new federal flood elevation requirements, prevent future flood damage and secure the cost of insurance rates.
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The state is providing funding to the nine counties hit the hardest by Sandy, which include Atlantic, Ocean, Union, Bergen, Cape May, Essex, Hudson, Monmouth and Middlesex, reports. State officials are still reviewing the more than 3,000 applications they received through last September.
“Life in the air is fine,” 58-year-old Lee Popick, whose home was raised two months ago, told “It’s kind of nice up here. You get a nice view. More wind.”
But for some, specifically older residents, higher homes poses problems. Which is why local companies like Mobility 123, a local independent living solutions company, are pitching in. Mobility 123’s Ryan Penn  told his company has already installed 15 wheelchair lifts, around $15,000 each, as well as 50 stair lifts in the wake of the program. Penn expects that number to double or triple this year.
But uprooting a home is not as simple as Pixar’s Up tells us. Boosting a house can cost an upward of $25,000 with prep and post-lift costs notching an additional $10,000 to $20,000. But Scott Brubaker, the DEP’s elevation grant manager, said there is no damage or income criteria for the federal funding, which means the program is fair game for those with Sandy wreckage. However, those who received some of the $600 million from the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation, and Mitigation (RREM) program cannot receive the Hazard Mitigation grant, so not all residents are jumping on board.
The DEP hopes to help around 2,700 primary homes across the nine counties, coinciding with the state’s buyout program of homes in damaged areas as well as the RREM program.
For now, the state continues to work through  grant applications for the next round of recipients, raising the bar—and roofs—on safety and damage prevention.