It's hard to believe Superstorm Sandy hit the Garden State almost a year and four months ago. It has been a very stressful time for the thousands of people trying to pick up the pieces of what Mother Nature left behind.

Flooding from Superstorm Sandy
Flooding from Superstorm Sandy (Townsquare Media NJ)

If you are in the process of rebuilding in Middlesex and Monmouth Counties, the new preliminary flood insurance rate maps are now out. This could potentially mean a big step forward for those just starting and those who are well into the difficult task.

The latest maps from the Federal Emergency Management Agency are similar to the ones released back in June, but with these, there's a clearer picture of areas closest to the coastline. The release is the next part of the coastal Flood Insurance Study update. The maps show the flood risk areas and can ultimately determine how much the insurance rates will be. The models are based on several key issues from topography, development and the overall environment.

"The maps are designed to be revamped every seven to 10 years," said Ken Spedding, a flood plain management specialist with FEMA. "However, Congress needs to fund the process. That's one of the reasons it has taken so long to update."

This process actually began in 2008, four years before Superstorm Sandy. The storm further emphasized the ongoing risks that the critical shoreline and inland areas face.

Within the next few months, additional maps will be released for counties including Ocean, Atlantic and Burlington. There will be an ongoing public comment period, and several hearings are slated for the spring of 2014. The counties hope to officially adopt the maps in 2015.

For more information on flood risk mapping and insurance, visit:

There's also a mitigation hotline setup. That number is 1-877-287-9804.

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