New Jersey is adopting advisory flood maps the federal government released last month to guide reconstruction following Hurricane Sandy.

Gov. Chris Christie signed emergency regulations Thursday to make the maps a statewide standard to provide guidelines for the construction and elevation of buildings in flood-hazard areas.

He says building to the higher standards will help make properties safer and help residents save on their flood insurance premiums.

"If you choose not to. . . if required by your bank or your mortgage company to have flood insurance, you're going to have to sustain then the higher flood insurance costs, which could be multiple -- seven or eight -- times higher than what you pay now," Christie said.

Christie said the maps ensure coastal communities will be reconstructed to be more resilient in future storms.

But Toms River Mayor Tom Kelleher said the costs of rebuilding according to the tougher standards may be too much for some residents who could decide to just walk away from their damaged homes.

"I know one particular widow who's in her late 70s, limited income. The Barnegat Bay came right through her house. Everything wound up in the street. No insurance, she can't afford to fix it, she can't afford to buy all new furniture, and she lost her car," he said. "She's moving out of state with her daughter."

Elevating a small ranch home could cost $50,000, said Brick Township Mayor Steve Acropolis.

Also Thursday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said it is extending the deadline until March 1 for victims of Superstorm Sandy to apply for disaster relief funds.

Those affected by the storm must first register with FEMA. The agency then helps determine what aid programs or referrals are appropriate.