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It’s been more than 18 months since Hurricane Sandy flooded the Pacific Street property that Woods, a supervisor for UPS, and his wife, April, an EMT, said they scraped together enough money to buy by surviving on hot dogs and peanut butter sandwiches about seven years ago.
Home owner Sarah Huff (center) talks with Michael Wimmer Sr. from The Salvation Army at the work site. Tuesday April 8 2014 Volunteers from the county Long Term Recovery Group work on a house owned by Sarah Huff in Brigantine damaged by Hurricane Sandy. (The Press of Atlantic City / Ben Fogletto)
Jill Bessey is from Maine, and she was surprised to learn how many people along the Jersey shore are still waiting for their homes to be rebuilt 18 months after Hurricane Sandy.
As co-chair of the TD Bank Volunteer Committee, she suggested volunteering at a home site as a community service activity. For two days this month, she and about a dozen TD employees from the Mount Laurel Tech Center helped build a deck at Sarah Huff’s newly raised home in Brigantine.
“There are so many people not in their homes,” she said. “We just wanted to help out.” Read More!
There may still be rubble on the ground in Union Beach and Sea Bright, but this week the night skies are going to glimmer festively in the recovering towns. The two boroughs will glow with epic holiday fireworks displays, big shows that are actually sparking concerns about traffic and crowd control.
Tonight, thousands of shells will be launched from a barge near the Driftwood Beach Club in Sea Bright, creating a fantasia of sparkling lights on the water for a charity fundraiser. Although spectators must purchase tickets to watch at the Driftwood, the patriotic pyrotechnics can be viewed for free at the public beach and other spots around town.
“This is either the first or second largest show in New Jersey for the holiday week,” said August Santore of Garden State Fireworks, a company that has produced hundreds of shows, including KaBoom, a Fourth of July fete in Red Bank that was discontinued last year.
County-based organizations are weaving together a safety net to help storm victims who have exhausted their financial options yet still find themselves short on what they need to recover from Hurricane Sandy.
The long-term recovery committees established in New Jersey at the recommendation of the Federal Emergency Management Agency aim to plug the holes in funding not filled by insurance settlements, federal grants and other resources. Once the size of those gaps are clear, the recovery groups — funded, in part, with money from the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund — hope to fill them.
In the early days after Hurricane Sandy, the Robin Hood Relief Fund and other foundations relied on word of mouth and chance encounters to get money to the neediest people. But as emergency relief evolves into long-term recovery, a more organized network of aid in New Jersey is starting to emerge.
“We’re coming into the recovery and rebuilding phase,” said Cam Henderson, executive director of the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund. “The first two months after the storm is the relief phase. Now we’re in the long process of rebuilding. We have a lot of organizations who are getting more organized and systematic about how they’re providing services to folks. We look forward to being a part of that process.”
The New Jersey Relief Fund, put together by Gov. Chris Christie and chaired by his wife Mary Pat Christie, has received $31 million in donations so far, Henderson said. In its first round of grants, which will go out by early- to mid- February, the fund is awarding $1 million to long-term recovery committees.