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20 May 2016

Rebuilt Sandy-damaged home wrecked again

 – A house in Babylon, Long Island, that was badly-damaged by Superstorm Sandy has been wrecked once again. An effort to make the home flood-proof went terribly wrong.

The home collapsed at about 9 p.m. Tuesday. The house was sitting on blocks for the last 6 weeks waiting to be raised. The home owner says this Friday work was going to resume.

Randy Stewart has lived in this waterfront home on yacht club road for years. No one was occupying the home since it was in the process of being raised permanently. Stewart was in the backyard and saw with his own eyes as the home he lived in for 19 years suddenly collapsed.

The town of Babylon took the house off the cribbing on Wednesday afternoon.

Stewart’s house was damaged by Superstorm Sandy in 2012. He rebuilt back then, but after spending money to fix up the damage, FEMA mandated that he raise it in order to avoid water damage in case of a future storm.

But Stewart said the work was delayed because he was waiting on government grants. He blames New York Rising for the collapse of his home.

Fox 5 news reached out to New York Rising, which told us it is not to blame. It stated that it sent Stewart $163,000 so far, of which $113,000 was to elevate his home.

However, Stewart said he has put a lot of his own money into his home, and insisted he used his own money to raise the house.

Stewart said he plans on rebuilding.

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19 May 2016

Springsteen lends song to Sandy fundraising

“TOMS RIVER – Drawing inspiration from Bruce Springsteen’s song, “We Take Care of Our Own,” Ocean County’s Long-Term Recovery Group has launched a fundraising campaign to help get more superstorm Sandy victims back home.

Springsteen gave permission for the recovery group to use his song title for the fundraising campaign, and also allowed it to create a video of images from Sandy and use the song as background music, said Long-Term Recovery Group Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer.

MORE:  Sandy victims don’t deserve FEMA

“We asked to use it for one year, and they allowed us to use it for five years,” said Fischer, who first met Springsteen back in the mid-1980s, when The Boss lent a hand in the unsuccessful attempt to prevent the shutdown of 3M’s Freehold Township plant.

Fischer was then president of Local 8-760 of the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Union, which represented 3M workers. Springsteen gave $25,000 to the effort to fight the plant closing, played at a benefit show at the Stone Pony, and signed newspapers ads that tried to convince 3M to keep the plant open.

Fischer kept in touch with Springsteen and his organization over the years, and recently reached out to his management team, asking if the long-term recovery group could use “We Take Care of Our Own” for the fundraising campaign.

MORE: Ortley Beach chapel rebuilding at last

The long-term recovery group is using the video to kick off its “We Take Care of our Own Adopt-a-Family” campaign, aimed at raising money from corporations, local businesses, fraternal organizations and the public in an effort to help get more Sandy victims back in their homes.

The campaign will feature profiles of families who are still struggling three and a half years after Sandy made landfall. The group is also urging people to contribute to the group’s page in the OceanFirst challenge. The top three fundraising groups will receive grants from the OceanFirst Foundation.

So far, the recovery group, an umbrella organization of more than 80 nonprofits, has distributed about $5.8 million to Sandy victims, paying for everything from rental assistance while their homes were being repaired to gaps in funding that were preventing their projects from being completed.

WATCH: Sandy towns beg for help with finances

Recovery Group Executive Director Sue Marticek said that local nonprofits are tapped out in many cases, and no longer have the money to contribute to the Sandy recovery. But hundreds of families still need help to get back home.

She said that using the song can help draw attention to the plight of the many residents who are still not home.

“It fits in with what we need to do,” she said. “We have been taking care of our own. We need to find a map to get these families back home. At least Bruce Springsteen is aware that this recovery is still going on.”

Marticek said that by trimming staff and stretching out its funding, the recovery group should be able to continue operating through the end of the year.

The song’s lyrics include a lament for the broken promises in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans: “From the shotgun shack to the Superdome/ There ain’t no help, the cavalry stayed home.”

MORE: Springsteen performs Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’ in concert

“We need to personalize, we need to humanize what’s going on,” Fischer said Thursday at the monthly meeting of the recovery group, an umbrella organization of more than 80 nonprofits that has worked to provide money and volunteer labor that helps fill gaps between a homeowners’ resources and the actual cost of rebuilding.

He said that when he mentioned Sandy victims still struggling to return home while on a recent vacation, people he spoke to were shocked that the Shore’s recovery is not yet complete.

“Everybody thinks this is over,” Fischer said.

Jean Mikle: 732-643-4050,”

06 May 2016

Sandy advocate calls for investigation of FEMA

TOMS RIVER — Saying the Jersey Shore’s recovery has been “cut off at the knees” because of lowball flood insurance payments, a Sandy advocate has repeated the call for an investigation of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Sue Marticek, executive director of the Ocean County Long-Term Recovery Group, said paltry flood insurance payments have made it extremely difficult for Sandy victims to rebuild and elevate their homes.

The state’s largest Sandy recovery program, Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation, and Mitigation (RREM), was never intended to be the primary source of funds for rebuilding, she said. RREM offers grants of up to $150,000 for rebuilding and elevating primary residences.

“If FEMA and flood insurance would have paid those claims fairly, the RREM program would not have been the major part of people’s budgets,” Marticek said. “…We all really do need to be upset about what’s happened and transpired here.”

The long-term recovery group, an umbrella organization of about 80 nonprofit groups, has spent $5.8 million to help Sandy survivors get back home. About 80 percent of those who have received help from the group did have flood insurance, Marticek noted.

“You see, after paying premiums in good faith for years and in some cases decades, many up and down our coastline feel they have been shortchanged in their payouts which has created a nightmare for them to try to return home,” she said.

Last week, a former FEMA contractor said he was told to deny or underpay claims exceeding certain ranges in deciding compensation for Superstorm Sandy victims. 

Those decisions were made as part of FEMA’s Hurricane Sandy Claims Review Process, which was put in place following allegations of fraud in the initial claims process.

05 May 2016

Springsteen lends song to Sandy fundraising

28 Apr 2016

EX-FEMA contractor says agency shortchanged Superstorm Sandy victims

03 Feb 2016

Lessons of Sandy: Raising homes paid off for some

Sharon Stabley

HE ELEVATED: Larry Johnson is happy he raised his Ocean City home after Sandy. It used to sit as low as his neighbor’s. In January, water intruded only in the garage, which was built to withstand it. ‘My first floor is 15 feet off the ground, so there’s no issue there,‘ he says.

Larry Johnson got 2 inches of water in his Ocean City home in Hurricane Sandy, just enough to force him to rip out all the flooring and 2 feet of the walls and treat the house for mold.

But when January’s nor’easter hit New Jersey, he didn’t worry about any Sandy reruns — even as he watched water flow down his street “like a river, almost” from a storm that set high-tide records farther south in Cape May County.

After Sandy, Johnson and his wife, Maria, ripped down their old rancher and rebuilt. Their home now sits on top of marine-grade piling that kept everything but the garage high and dry in this flooding.

And all it took to fix that was a power-washer.

“I know where I live, and I know when there’s tidal flooding, I’m at risk,” he said. “But my first floor is 15 feet off the ground, so there’s no issue there.”

Flooding varies by storm, and Sandy’s worst-hit areas fared better in many cases than southern Cape May County towns did in this storm.

But another difference between the two storms is that after Sandy, many homeowners went through the complex, confusing and expensive process of having their houses raised, or knocking them down and starting over higher.

Others couldn’t or didn’t navigate the forms and funding frustration it took to elevate their homes.

19 Jan 2016

New concerns in New Jersey’s superstorm recovery for 2016

New challenges are arising for Sandy-impacted homeowners till trying to rebuild from the October, 2012 hurricane.

Sue Marticek, executive director of the Ocean County Long Term Recovery Group (OCLTRG), said some residents who were forced to knock down their homes or took advantage of free municipal demolition programs thinking they were saving money, are now having difficulty getting additional funding from their National Flood Insurance Policy (NFIP) claims.

“We have a big challenge trying to fight for them for their foundations because they don’t have the house anymore,” said Marticek.

Marticek explained that proving Sandy damaged the foundation is difficult for those who may not have had photo proof or an independent engineering report as evidence.

“There was never any clarity to these homeowners from day one. You have one government agency telling you to do one thing, you have another government agency telling you do do another. The lack of clarity for these homeowners from the start has really cost them a lot,” Marticek said.

Marticek added that asking people to go back more than three years to show evidence again to justify a case for additional funding is difficult.

Sandy survivors are dealing with three major obstacles at this stage in the recovery, according to Marticek.

“One is again, dealing with the NFIP review process; two is still navigating and closing out of the RREM [Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation] program; and then three is contractor fraud and disputes. Those three issues are basically the biggest stumbling blocks in this recovery,” said Marticek.

Marticek said workshops covering those three areas will be needed this year, in 2016 with professionals who can get to the bottom of the cases and help clients.

“The amount of contractor fraud and contractor disputes that are out there is phenomenal, and when the dust settles, I think that is going to be, if not the biggest obstacle that hit New Jersey, it’s going to be up there in the top three easily,” Marticek said.

Marticek added that when a homeowner gets ripped off or they’re in a dispute, they’re recovery comes to a complete halt.

The OCLTRG has been working with the Volunteer Lawyers for Justice and the Community Health Law Project to create a Sandy task force to review each case individually.

Marticek pointed out that she thinks non-profit builders will have a more significant role this year.

“I think they are truly are going to be the last hope for a lot of people,” added Marticek.
Read More: New concerns in New Jersey’s superstorm recovery for 2016 |

23 Nov 2015

Monmouth and Ocean County briefs

30 Oct 2015

6 ways to avoid the ‘next Sandy’ | Di Ionno

29 Oct 2015

NJ’s Sandy Recovery Three Years In: Progress Made, But Lessons Left to Learn

When Sandy made landfall in Brigantine, NJ, late on the evening of October 29, 2012, it was immediately clear that the state’s recovery would be a long-term process. As state officials wrote in their action plan applying for aid from the federal government, more than 40,000 primary homes and 15,000 rental units had sustained “severe” or “major” damage from the storm. Boardwalks up and down the coast were replaced by piles of rubble, and damage estimates totaled tens of billions of dollars.But despite the scene, many storm victims remained cautiously optimistic that things would work out in the end, and that the end wasn’t too far over the horizon. People trusted that flood and homeowners insurance would kick in to cover their losses, and that aid money from the state and federal governments would come through to help them rebuild and get back on their feet.

Three years later, while some storm victims are back in their homes, many thousands more are still waiting to complete the process, amid being shortchanged dramatically on their flood-insurance claims, facing problems with banks and contractors, and sustaining lengthy delays in getting recovery checks from the state.

On this, the third anniversary of the storm, here’s a look at where the recovery stands and some of the key lessons it’s taught for how to handle future storms.

Current status of the recovery

“Three years since Sandy made landfall, the NJ Department of Community Affairs remains as hard at work as ever on the recovery effort,” said spokeswoman Lisa Ryan.

“When it comes to the more than two-dozen recovery programs funded with [federal Community Development Block Grant] Disaster Recovery monies, which DCA administers, these programs have been set up, are underway, and are progressing toward their goals. We’ve built partnerships with many federal, state, and local governments; fellow state agencies; numerous nonprofit organizations; and with many in the private sector to advance New Jersey’s recovery. We are also continually assessing the operational effectiveness of our recovery programs and improving our performance. This has resulted in positive and measurable progress that we anticipate will continue in the months and years ahead.”

Though just 2,000 of the 8,000 families in the state’s largest homeowner-grant programhave completed construction and are back in their homes, that number has doubled in the past six months, and the vast majority of participants have received at least an initial payment. In addition, Ryan said the process continues to gather steam, with about 50 homes finishing construction and $7 million now being distributed to homeowners in an average week.