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18 Aug 2014

How Mary Pat Christie’s Sandy relief fund has spent nearly $33.8M in donations

As the two-year mark to Hurricane Sandy’s landfall on the East Coast approaches, the charity launched by New Jersey First Lady Mary Pat Christie in the days after the storm is gearing up to hand out its remaining money.

The Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund has so far awarded nearly 85 percent of the $40 million donated from more than 30,000 corporations and individuals, including $2.5 million from the fuel company Hess and a $1 million contribution from Jon Bon Jovi and his band.

17 Jul 2014

Sandy charities filling repair needs

Joann Squeo leans up against the gray aluminum siding of the Keansburg home she grew up in, the home where she raised her kids, the home she was forced out of by superstorm Sandy and the home that she quite reasonably wondered if it was slipping out of her grasp forever.

“There’s a lot of memories here. … I wouldn’t know where to go,” she said in the backyard of her Forest Avenue home last month.

For the last 20 months, she was never more than a few miles from the house — living in area hotels at first, then back into the unfinished home and now a rental house in another section of Keansburg — but it might as well have been across the country. For the longest time, Squeo, 56, who lives with two adult children and her longtime partner, didn’t know where to turn for help. The Squeos spent every penny they had, and then racked up considerable credit card debt. They were victimized by the well-meaning and the malicious alike and rejected by the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation program (RREM) on what the family says was a technicality.

25 May 2014

Charity organizations help family get home

12 May 2014

NJ Sandy victims struggling to rebuild turning to community-based recovery groups

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.

21 Apr 2014

In it for the long term: Sandy recovery groups still seeking volunteers


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!

01 Jul 2013

Shore Roundup: Fireworks galore all along the shore and ‘Sippin’ on the River’


Fireworks explode over the casinos in Atlantic City in 2012. (File Photo)

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.

30 Jun 2013

Long-term recovery groups gear up to plug funding gaps for Sandy victims

A sign stands in an empty lot on Brook Street in Union Beach six months after Hurricane Sandy leveled the neighborhood. (Robert Sciarrino/The Star-Ledger)

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.

15 Apr 2013

Home for disaster relief volunteers receives grant from First Lady’s charity

 mary-pat-christie-hurricane-relief-fund.jpgFirst Lady Mary Pat Christie talks about the grants the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund has distributed so far after touring a hub for disaster relief volunteers in Point Pleasant Beach today.

For a week at a time, dozens of volunteers assisting with disaster relief along the Jersey Shore call the second floor of the Point Pleasant Presbyterian Church’s education annex home.

With a grant from the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund, church officials hope to make that space a bit more comfortable.
The charity, which is chaired by First Lady Mary Pat Christie, awarded the church $31,300 to help renovate the bathrooms, among other upgrades, in a round of grants distributed earlier this month. The Rev. Carl Wilton led Christie on a tour today of the church’s facilities, which can sleep up to 36 volunteers on bunk beds.

20 Jan 2013

Sandy aid network sends funds to neediest N.J. victims as rebuilding begins

mary-pay-christie.JPGNew Jersey’s first lady Mary Pat Christie is shown in this file photo. The New Jersey Relief Fund, put together by Gov. Chris Christie and chaired by Mary Pat has received $31 million in donations so far, 

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.