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06 Jul 2016

Harry and Grace

Over last four years, “Harry” and “Grace” have been forced to live in a trailer and several different rental properties. Their home in Little Egg Harbor was severely damaged by three feet of water and had to be completely demolished. Initially Harry and Grace’s case was being handled through the Mental8551775680_d2efae776d_b Health Association of NJ. However, after MHANJ’s funding for disaster case management ended, their case was transferred to OCLTRG for rental assistance. Upon reviewing Harry and Grace’s case, we learned that their rebuild was stalled for months because the contractor filed for bankruptcy. This left them with no remaining accessible funding and a half-finished home. Fortunately, following the advocacy efforts of OCLTRG and partner agencies, the state rental assistance programs for homeowners, RREM and LMI, have been extended.

The OCLTRG is now working with the family to find funding to finish their project. A Future with Hope, one of our nonprofit building partners, is intent on helping us get this job done but even with the use of volunteer labor it will cost $12, 300 to get Harry and Grace back home.

Donate today so we can continue to help families like Harry and Grace.

06 Jul 2016

Sandy high-water mark signs to be placed in Shore towns

 Officials announced on Monday, June 27, 2016, a new initiative that will place 100 signs around 14 municipalities in Monmouth County that show Hurricane Sandy’s high-water mark. (Alex Napoliello | NJ Advance Media for

MIDDLETOWN — Residents in 14 Monmouth County towns will soon get a stark reminder that Hurricane Sandy’s high-water mark reached 14 feet above sea level.

The message will be plastered on approximately 100 signs placed in prominent locations throughout the Shore towns. The signs are aimed to promote awareness about the impact of severe flooding and will also help lower flood insurance premiums for homeowners in participating towns, officials said.

With the Belford Ferry Terminal as a backdrop, Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden and other local, county and federal officials announced Monday morning the launch of the High Water Mark Initiative.

Golden said the signs are one more way the 23 towns along the Jersey coastline in Monmouth County continue to lead the way in responding to the devastating impact of Hurricane Sandy.

“This initiative will constantly reinforce the message that, yes, it can happen again and, yes, we all need to prepare,” Golden said.

02 Jul 2016


Our client, Anne, is an 83-year-old disabled female veteran of the Airforce. She taught for six years during the Korean conflict and suffered severe hearing loss while overseas. In the last few decades, Anne lost her husband, battled cancer and, most recently, suffered serious damage from Sandy. She was forced to rebuild the inside of the home and elevate it by eight feet. This made it nearly impossible to access the front door and left Anne in a difficult situation. She needed a shaft to accommodate aF-86H_Sabre_in_flight_1950s-1 vertical lift but could not afford it.

Her son, a school teacher, has done everything humanly possible to get his mother back home. He’s sold several of his belongings, some gifted to him 20 years ago by his belated father, just to pay for his mothers outstanding bills. Despite these selfless efforts, they still needed help with two things: affording a shaft to accommodate the vertical lift and paying an overdue debt to a plumber who worked on her ruined home.

OCLTRG Adopt-A-Family Program was able to find donors to contribute toward these last few items so that Anne could return to the home her father built 50 years ago. Since conception, OCLTRG has provided funding to 85 households with veterans.

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28 Jun 2016


13221112_659061414243384_7307381661853467722_nThe widow of a veteran and her wheel chair bound adult son came to OCLTRG when they realized the structural integrity of their home and bulkhead were compromised during Superstorm Sandy. They feared the water the bulkhead kept at bay would cause even more damage if it were not immediately repaired.

OCLTRG was able to raise 40,000 dollars, through the Adopt-A-Family program, to keep the home safe from further damage. This enabled them to begin the rebuilding process but also raised a new challenge.   They could not reside in the house during construction. Thankfully, the OCLTRG was able to procure funds for two “long-stay hotel rooms” that were best suited for the specific needs of mother and son. “It brings me tears of joy to work with such incredible people,” says her son. “Thank you.”

Donate today so we can continue to help people like Rick and his mother!

27 Jun 2016

First Sandy devastated her. Then the state did.

Sue Marticek, executive director of the Ocean County Long-Term Recovery Group, calls for investigation of FEMA. Iphone video by Jean Mikle

Two years after awarding grants for Laurie Fox’s storm-damaged Lacey home, the government wants its money back. The reason is nuts.

After her Lacey home got pummeled by superstorm Sandy, Laurie Fox received two relief grants totaling nearly $14,000 from New Jersey’s Department of Community Affairs.

Her nightmare finally seemed to be ending.

In fact, it was just beginning.

In 2015, two years after awarding the money, the state demanded it back. The reason: She failed to prove it was her primary address.

HELPING SANDY VICTIMS: Springsteen lends song to Sandy fundraising

So Fox gathered documentation, including four years’ worth of homestead rebates and notarized affidavits from several neighbors, but an administrative judge ruled against her earlier this month. Now she’s been devastated twice: First by Sandy, then by the system.

“The whole thing is just sick,” Fox said. “You wonder, how many other people did they do this to?”

‘The smallest technicality’

The Asbury Park Press reviewed documents related to the case. Here is the quick summary:

  • Fox bought the three-bedroom ranch in the Forked River section of Lacey in 2002 and used it as a rental property while she lived in the Bergen County town of Little Ferry with her friend Cliff Palifrone.
  • In 2008 she moved to the Lacey home to care for her father, who was battling cancer. After he died that year, Fox stayed there with her two pit bulls until storm damage forced them to move back to Little Ferry in October of 2012.
  • Fox, who is 50, has a learning disability and relies on the 55-year-old Palifrone to handle much of her finances. Some of her bills go to the Lacey address, some go to Little Ferry. Because of her reliance on Palifrone, she did not change her driver’s license from Little Ferry to Lacey prior to the storm. That became Exhibit A in the DCA’s quest for a refund, even though the DCA was aware of the discrepancy when awarding Fox the resettlement and RREM grants.
27 Jun 2016

Governor’s Conference on Volunteerism and Service

Save the Date NJ GOV Volunteerism Conference 2016

20 Jun 2016

Summer is back — except for some Sandy victims | Di Ionno

The door to Laurie Fox’s house won’t open.

Maybe it’s damp mildew inside that caused the door to expand in the heat. Maybe it’s the sagging roof.

Either way, it’s a metaphor for the post-Sandy mess that has kept Fox out of her house for 43 months, with no prospect of returning.

Fox’s home is in Forked River Beach, a section of Lacey Township. And, like thousands of others, she continues to live somewhere else. For many Jersey Shore residents “the disaster after the disaster” – shorthand for the Sandy recovery – continues as another summer approaches.

Over the last few weekends, Gov. Christie Christie did his annual Shore tour, walking the boards at Seaside Heights and Point Pleasant and Asbury Park.

“It’s to remind folks how great the Jersey Shore is and how great we’ve recovered from Sandy …,” said Christie said in downtown Ocean Grove a few days ago.

“In threeandahalf years – with the exception of a couple of thousands residents across the entire Shore who have not moved back into their homes – businesses are back, almost all of the residents are back in their homes,” he said. “That’s a pretty extraordinary recovery and I want to make sure people know about that and to feel free to come down here …”

By “people,” he means tourists and by “down here,” he means the beachfront towns. By those measures, Christie is right.

In the Belmars and Point Pleasants and Seasides of the Shore, the boardwalks are new, the pavilions are open and the beaches have been expanded.

But the Sandy recovery is really a tale of two Shores.

The 127-mile tourism stretch from Sandy Hook to Cape May is open for business. The rental market is healthy, boardwalk rides are spinning and you again have to wait in line for an ice cream cone.

I think it’s a conspiracy to drive out people like me so the developers can take over.” — Laurie Fox, Sandy victim
19 Jun 2016

The Jersey Shore is losing year-round residents by the thousands


Empty shore boardwalk.JPG
The Seaside boardwalk in the winter. Without summer residents, the New Jersey shore population has been steadily declining because of Sandy and economic difficulties. (Alex Remnick | NJ Advance Media for (Alex Remnick)

As the Jersey Shore swells in population from tourists this summer, something is still missing — the full-time residents it has lost in the past 10 years.

While New Jersey increased in population by nearly 3 percent from 2005 to 2014, the average town along the coast experienced a 9 percent decline, a NJ Advance Media review of Census data found. That shift likely reflects major issues in Sandy recovery and the changing economic landscape of Shore towns.

In some towns, the losses are particularly stark. Sea Isle City lost 38 percent of its population in the 10 years. Beach Haven lost 36 percent.

Larger towns with significant inland populations may not make the top 10, but still suffered significant losses. Toms River, for example, bled nearly 3,800 residents over the last decade, though most of those losses were likely near the Shore.

The population in New Jersey has tended to increase in urban areas and decrease in rural areas over the past decade. But a closer review of the areas in Shore counties — Atlantic, Cape May, Monmouth and Ocean — reveals that towns along the coast are losing their residents.

Shore residents are experiencing the results of this change.

Toms River Mayor Thomas Kelaher said that enrollment in schools there have shrunk from 18,000 students to 16,500.

John Ducey, the mayor of Brick, also noted a drop in school population. He attributed the change to vacation homeowners pushing out full-time residents.

But he also said Sandy’s traumatic effect was a factor.

“People move out because they didn’t want to deal with a second Sandy, or they couldn’t get insurance or FEMA [assistance],” he said.


16 Jun 2016

Success Stories: The Lorenzo’s

family-3In a single night, the Lorenzo’s watched as their family home was utterly destroyed by Superstorm Sandy. After spending all of their insurance money on elevation, they were left with nothing more than the gutted, empty shell of their former home. It bore no resemblance to the place that lovingly housed their three children only weeks prior. The Lorenzo’s were at their wit’s end when they came to OCLTRG and met with our disaster case managers. Through OCLTRG’s partnership with a Future With Hope we were able to restore their family home!

Unfortunately, not every family affected by Sandy has been able to return home and this has caused severe strain on children. In fact, according to The Sandy Child and Family Health Study, 42% of children in minimally damaged homes are frequently depressed, anxious or have difficulty sleeping. This is largely due to extended construction projects.

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07 Jun 2016

Contractor charged with over $75K in Sandy theft

“TOMS RIVER – A family that was victimized when superstorm Sandy destroyed their Long Beach Island home in 2012 was preyed upon again when a Toms River contractor took more than $75,000 for repairs that weren’t completed, according to a grand jury indictment.

Robert J. Rieche, 71, of Toms River was charged in a recent indictment with theft from the estate of a 72-year-old woman whose home was destroyed in the epic storm on Oct. 29, 2012.

READ: 7 more charged with Sandy fraud

Greta S. Purgavie died in 2009, years before superstorm Sandy ravaged her home in Ship Bottom, said Martin Anton, a supervising assistant Ocean County prosecutor.

Her son, Charles Purgavie Jr., executor of his mother’s estate, hired Rieche in early 2013 to gut and renovate the house so that his sister could live in it, Anton said.

Purgavie paid Rieche about $131,000 to do the work, but Rieche performed very little of it, Anton said.

“Purgavie lived in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, so he didn’t really see the progress of the work,’’ Anton said.

READ: Poor health means no jail for Sandy fraudster

Rieche had removed insulation, copper piping and the back door and steps from the home, scraped for mold and started doing electrical work and painting and installation of drywall and trim, Anton said.

But the contractor allegedly diverted more than $75,000 of the money that Purgavie paid him,  Anton said.

Anton alleged that Rieche instead used some of the money for a down payment on a home in his wife’s name and diverted more of it to other projects. Some of the money was used to purchase flooring and cabinets, but no floors or cabinets were ever installed in the Purgavie family home, the assistant prosecutor said.

WATCH: Avoid hiring a crooked contractor

“It doesn’t make any sense that any of these expenditures had anything to do with this project,’’ Anton said. “They couldn’t be related to the project because they were for things that were never installed.’’

In addition, the investigation by Detective James Conroy of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office revealed that Rieche used some of the funds to write checks to his wife and daughter, Anton said.

The indictment alleges that Purgavie gave the money to Rieche under a contract that specified the exact uses for the funds, but said he instead used it for his own purposes.

The theft occurred between Jan. 27, 2013 and Jan. 8, 2014, the indictment said.

READ: Brick woman: I beat grandma to death

The theft Rieche is accused of is a second-degree crime that carries a term of imprisonment between five and 10 years upon a conviction.

Rieche is free on $10,000 bail, which he posted on Aug. 26, 2015, following his arrest, according to the indictment.

He will face an arraignment on the charge within the next several weeks.

Kathleen Hopkins: 732-643-4202;”

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