Since my election to Congress back in November, I have been closely following the Asbury Park Press investigative series regarding the Federal Emergency Management Agency seeking total or partial repayment of funds from some superstorm Sandy victims (”Pay it back! Superstorm victims told to return aid,” Nov. 30).
While all taxpayers would support FEMA recouping funds that were acquired via fraud or deception by people trying to game the system, the APP’s reporting leaves me deeply concerned that the monstrous FEMA bureaucracy could be targeting innocent people who rightfully received FEMA monies in the wake of Sandy and have neither the need nor ability to repay those funds.
FEMA’s enforcement actions should be targeted at those who knowingly and intentionally tried to abuse the system, not innocent people who applied for and received monies they believed they were entitled to. Monies, by the way, that have likely long since been expended as part of rebuilding their homes, businesses and lives.
If you are one of these innocent victims I want to hear from you. That’s why along with Berkeley Township Mayor Carmen Amato, Legal Services of New Jersey and the Ocean County Long Term Recovery Group, I will be organizing a free legal clinic for Sandy survivors in Ocean County on Saturday, Dec. 13, from 10 a.m. to noon at the Berkeley Township Recreation Building (630 Route 9, Berkeley).
As the new representative from the 3rd Congressional District, I will stand with any victim of Sandy who believes they are qualified recipients of this money and are now being asked to repay it unfairly. I will request that FEMA provide clear and convincing legal evidence to the contrary before delivering another crushing financial blow to people whose lives were turned upside down by the storm.