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26 Nov 2014

Bruce Duran – An “I Think I Can” Man

DSC06762“…Previous storms were like as they say… ‘the sky is falling, the sky is falling,’ and the sky never fell.—But this time it did.”   These were the thoughts and recollections of Bruce Duran, a twenty year resident of the Barrier Islands’ beautiful Normandy Beach in Ocean County, NJ.  Thinking he could ride out Hurricane Sandy in his near beach-front property, Bruce had an upfront view of the storm and her power.  Very quickly the waves started coming in over the dunes and surrounding his house from three different directions.  At a friend’s urgent suggestion, he finally left his house to run down the street, in-between the huge waves, to a safer location.

When the storm had passed, Bruce recalls that it was like Monopoly houses flipped on their sides in the street.  As for his house, it was left severely damaged and would later need to be demolished.  “The worse part of the storm was not only that you lost…your home, but you weren’t allowed to come back for six months. So…you’re at a crossroads and you don’t know which way to go…”  The complexity of insurance companies, federal programs and township procedures only added to the confusion and frustration of the situation.

To save on costs, Bruce—who works as a heavy equipment operator—undertook the daunting and emotionally trying task of demolishing his own house.  “That was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. … You think about…your daughter’s graduation, your son’s graduations, your summers, your family…all going into the dumpster.  Pretty tough.  Pretty tough.”  Bruce turned to the Ocean County Long Term Recovery Group (OCLTRG) to try and keep moving forward.  His Disaster Case Manager helped him through the process, which as Bruce puts it was “pretty easy”—a refreshing difference as compared to the rest of his recovery experience.  The OCLTRG was able to get Bruce the lumber needed to rebuild his house, which he hopes to move back into by the end of the year.

Despite living through one of the toughest times in his life, when asked what motivated him to keep going, Bruce spoke of how fortunate he was to have such great support from his friends.  “And also too, you reach out to people like the Long Term Recovery, they reach back to you. And that’s a very nice thing. …And that motivates you even to say, ‘Wow. There’s somebody that really does care. …That goes a long way.”

So what’s Bruce looking most forward to?  “Sitting down and having a meal in my own house; spending holidays there like we did in the past; and just settle in”.  Despite the difficulties of living displaced for over two years now, Bruce is still able to be a positive influence on those around him:  “But you know, you gotta keep a good attitude…you gotta stay upbeat. … In everything you do in life there’s always gonna be a little bit of hurdles. You know, you just gotta overcome ‘em that’s all.”


25 Nov 2014

APP Article on OCLTRG RREM Workshops

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The Asbury Park Press wrote an article on the OCLTRG hosted RREM workshops.  The article highlights the hazards of navigating the RREM process, as well as the benefits of having the OCLTRG by your side to help you through the process.

If you haven’t made it out to one of our workshops, there are two upcoming opportunities on Dec. 6th (Toms River) and Dec. 9th (Manahawkin). For details and to register, call 732-569-3484.

11 Nov 2014

OCLTRG to Host RREM Workshops

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Is hosting RREM Workshops to help homeowners in Ocean County understand and navigate the State’s RREM Program and how the OCLTRG may be able to assist.

Tuesday November 11th 6:30pm – Manahawkin
Saturday November 15th 10am – Brick

If you are interested in attending a workshop please call 732-569-3484.
Registration is required.

workshop attendees have said………….
“So glad I came here tonight; absolutely enlightening…”
“I learned more in 2 hours that I did in 2 years….”
“Thanks for providing clarity. I feel I can start to move forward now…”

29 Oct 2014

OCLTRG Celebrates Sandy 2 Year Anniversary

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October 29, 2014

Ocean County Long Term Recovery Group Celebrates Sandy 2 Year Anniversary

Volunteers alongside First Lady Mary Pat Christie and representatives from the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund and A Future with Hope at a private residence in Toms River


Toms River, NJ – A collaborative effort to help get a family home for the holidays took place today in Ocean County. First Lady Mary Pat Christie joined representatives from the Ocean County Long Term Recovery Group (OCLTRG), the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund and A Future with Hope to celebrate the near completion of the home of Toms River residents Charles and Angelina Lorenzo. Volunteers and several members of the press came to watch and participate in the commemoration which included a few brief speeches from key representatives, a tour of the house and even a little painting done by the First Lady.

The Lorenzos, along with their three children, have been displaced since SuperStorm Sandy hit two years ago. Though they initially were able to stay with relatives, the Lorenzo family has been in a rental across town for nearly two years. Because of the distance Angie had to quit her job in order to drive her kids to and from school each day. The financial burden placed on the Lorenzos because of the storm caused them to turn to the OCLTRG for help. Having been through the gamut of programs available, Sarah Ruane, their Disaster Case Manager at the OCLTRG, commented that “this family’s a good example of people…who have done everything right, but they just didn’t receive enough funding to be able to finish the project on their own, and that was when they reached out to us. They just needed that…extra push.”

With the help of Sarah, the Lorenzos were able to access resources from many different partner organizations they wouldn’t otherwise have known were available. Through a partnership with A Future with Hope, the OCLTRG was able to decrease the costs of rebuilding through volunteer labor. Over 2,300 hours, which equates to approximately $65,000, were put in by over 100 volunteers from such groups as the Nebraska Synod, the Karitas Foundation, McDonaldsville United Methodist Church, Zion United Methodist Church, Christ United Methodist Church-Bethel, Sparta UMC, First Presbyterian Church – Bloomsburg, Old Greenwich Presbyterian Church, Canfield Presbyterian Church, Lend-A-Hand, North Lancaster Conference (of the United Methodist Church), the Brethren and the Christian Public Service (Mennonites).

Charles, who himself joined alongside the volunteers and worked on the house as often as he could, reflected on the journey: “Everyone with the OCLTRG including our Disaster Case Manager and Project Coordinator, from our original contact to the present, have been a blessing to our family and give us our ‘light at the end of the tunnel.’ The new volunteers we get to meet each week are such awesome people, and their smiles really help us keep going.”

“Collaboratively we are all working together to help our communities recover,” noted Sue Marticek, Executive Director of the OCLTRG. “I truly feel that the key to this recovery is in our relationships, and I am so thankful to have [the many different] organizations walking side by side down this bumpy road of recovery.”

03 Oct 2014

RREM Informational Sessions to be Held in Oct.

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The Christie Administration announced on Wednesday, October 1st that it would be holding several workshops along the shore to answer questions about the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) Program.  All sessions will be held from 4-7 PM at the following locations:

  • Union Beach – October 6
  • Toms River – October 8
  • Brick Township – October 14
  • Point Pleasant – October 16
  • Little Egg Harbor – October 20
  • Brigantine – October 22

RREM applicants who have any questions–from navigating the rebuilding process to deciphering their newly approved grant to checking the status of their application–are encouraged to come.  To read more and get location details, go to