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27 Oct 2014

OCLTRG and Partners Reach $2 Million Mark

October 14, 2014

Ocean County Long Term Recovery Group Reaches $2 Million Distribution Mark
Assists Hundreds of Ocean County Residents

Toms River, NJ – The Ocean County Long Term Recovery Group (OCLTRG) and its partner agencies are proud to announce $2 million has been committed to Ocean County residents affected by Superstorm Sandy. This was accomplished through the OCLTRG facilitated Unmet Needs Table—a partnership of agencies, which is comprised of the OCLTRG, OceanFirst Foundation, United Way of Ocean County, Salvation Army, Homes for All, A Future with Hope and Lutheran Social Ministries, who review and seek to meet the remaining needs of residents after all other avenues of assistance have been pursued. Major funders of the OCLTRG include the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund, American Red Cross and the Robin Hood Foundation.

Between July 2013 and the end of April 2014, the Unmet Needs Table committed their first $1 million to clients in Ocean County. Between May 2014 and the end of September 2014, the Unmet Needs Table committed their second million dollars, bringing the total of client cases helped to 241.

OCLTRG has also coordinated volunteers from across the country to assist in the recovery effort. Since inception, 750 volunteers have put in 14,500 hours of work on 60 homes vetted by disaster case managers from the OCLTRG or one of its partner agencies. The value of this volunteer work is approximately $400,000.

The need for volunteers is expected to increase as the NJ State Grant Program (RREM) works more and more closely with the Long Term Recovery Groups and substantial repair and rebuild projects move through the pipeline. OCLTRG seeks volunteers, both locally and from the nationwide base of adult and youth mission trips, who will generously share their skills and help with Sandy recovery.

05 Aug 2014

“Debbie from Brick”


Driving up to the house, it’s easy to assume that the Fortiers are well-off. The new modular home installed along the lagoon fits in with the surrounding houses, and if it wasn’t for the little Ocean County Long Term Recovery Group sign by the road, you might not know that their home had been devastated by Hurricane Sandy. But 22 months later, Debbie and Tom Fortier are still in the process of recovering.

When I met with them to hear their story, Debbie and Tom were quick to admit they are the last people to ask for help. Even after 3 ½ feet of water flooded their home, they felt they would be able to rebuild with little or no assistance. Debbie and Tom set out to save their home, where they’ve lived for 25 years, only to find the foundation had been damaged. The house was demolished, and Debbie and Tom knew they would have to swallow their pride and reach out for help.

But navigating the maze to sustainable recovery can be overwhelming. They applied for several grants, and were caught in a cycle of starting and stopping work as they waited to be approved. That’s when their pastor at Brick Presbyterian Church stepped in. He knew the Fortiers as leaders in the church – Tom is a Deacon, and both he and his wife lead the Junior High Youth Group. But he also knew the Fortiers would have a hard time accepting help. As Debbie puts it, “It’s hard to wrap your mind around the fact that you’re needy.” Luckily, their pastor pointed them in the direction of the Ocean County Long Term Recovery Group.

Despite their mixed feelings, the Fortiers made the call to OCLTRG. Now, 10 months into their recovery, Debbie and Tom agree that it was the “best thing that ever happened.” Disaster Case Manager Eva Meyers guided them through the grant process, and secured rental assistance for the months they’ve been out of their home. She worked with them as the modular home company delayed installation month after month until finally, in April of 2014, the Fortiers had their new modular home in place.

Since then, OCLTRG has been able to help with electricity, HVAC, flooring, and cabinetry. And thanks to our new partnership with A Future with Hope the Fortiers have had a steady stream of volunteers from across the country helping put their new home together. The help from OCLTRG, combined with volunteer efforts, is making sure the Fortiers can get back in their home as soon as possible. “We are just so grateful,” says Debbie. “Meeting with the volunteers, you feel like you get to share their stories and learn about their lives.”

Despite headaches, setbacks, and heartache, Debbie and Tom can now stand in their new house and know that soon, it will be a home.



31 Jul 2014

Tips for Consumers

As more and more stories pour in claiming contractor fraud, Sandy victims need to be more cautious than ever. Contractors have been accused of accepting money from victims without completing the project. This leaves our victims without a contractor and possibly out hundreds of thousands of dollars. The OCLTRG wants to make sure this doesn’t happen to any more members of our community. Here are some tips to follow from the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs:

  • Work with a contractor who is recommended by people you know. Ask for references
  • Contact the state Division of Consumer Affairs at 800-242-5846 or check to see if the contractor is registered.
  • Before hiring, demand a copy of the contractor’s liability insurance policy and check with the insurer to make sure it’s valid.
  • Obtain a written contract. Contracts for jobs costing $500 or more require a written contract. It must include the contractor name, address, and registration number. A registration number begins with 13VH.
  • Don’t pay all at once. The general practice is pay one-third up front, one-third halfway through, and one-third upon completion.

Source: Willis, David P. “Contractors face $1.3M in fines, consumer restitution.” Observer Reporter 24 July 2013: A8. Print.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of Sandy Contractor Fraud, please follow the steps posted by the state’s Statewide Sandy Fraud Working Group (link below):