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All posts in 2015

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.

29 Oct 2015


29 Oct 2015

Hurricane Sandy Victims Still Reckon With Insurance Underpayments 3 Years After Storm, Long Waits In FEMA Review

Right after Hurricane Sandy clobbered his bungalow in Long Beach, New York, Thomas Marlow headed for Manhattan, to tackle another area of flood damage: the Hugh Carey Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel. Marlow, a civil engineer, had to come up with a plan to pump 65 million gallons of water out of the underground highway. Working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Coast Guardhe got the job done in about two weeks.

Three years after the infamous superstorm struck the Eastern Seaboard on Oct. 29, 2012, Marlow’s own property on Long Island remains an empty sand lot. He demolished the house last year. He’s managed major infrastructure projects for airports, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and ground zero. “I’m used to red tape,” he says. But the task of rebuilding his own home, after receiving a low damage estimate from his insurance carrier, has proved tougher than anything he’s done during his career.

“Nobody wants to be living out of a suitcase,” says Marlow, who has stayed with family and friends while continuing to pay the mortgage on the bungalow. “It just takes a toll on everything – your job, your kids, your relationship with your family. I’m definitely tired, but I’m not ready to give up.”

A fire hydrant sits along a flooded Beach 36th street along the Rockaway Beach section of Queens, New York, Oct. 29, 2015. Oct. 29 marks the third anniversary of Hurricane Sandy that damaged homes and beaches along the East Coast. PHOTO: REUTERS/ SHANNON STAPLETON 

Marlow is one of thousands of Sandy victims who believe the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Flood Insurance Program underpaid them for damages to their homes. Following allegations of fraud by insurers and their subcontractors, these homeowners have decided to take up FEMA on a historic offer to reassess claims. In May, FEMA said 142,000 policyholders could request to reopen their Sandy insurance claims, and see if they were entitled to more money to fix their homes. For some homeowners, it’s a last chance to recoup funds after insurance struggles that drained their personal finances and uprooted their lives. For FEMA, the review is a critical test of the credibility of a program that is the primary source of flood insurance for homeowners nationwide.

24 Oct 2015

3 years later, Sandy pets are homeless, too

08 Oct 2015

We need money and a plan to fix N.J.’s dunes before it’s too late, lawmakers say

As the tides and floodwaters receded from the weekend’s storm, it took sand with it — sand needed to protect the Jersey Shore.

South Jersey lawmakers have been looking for ways to mitigate the beach erosion before another storm comes to the Jersey Shore.

“If you talk to almost all of our barrier islands, they will tell you that, the ones that have had the (dune) construction projects, there was probably a tremendous amount of property that was saved due to the dune system,” said U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-2). “That was the first line of defense. ”

Leading up to and after the storm, LoBiondo has been meeting with local officials and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to figure out how to protect the Jersey Shore from future weather events — especially now that many of the protective dunes have been eroded.

Over the course of 30 years, more than $1 billion has been spent on beach replenishment, according to coastal researchers.

High tides carved eight-foot-high cliffs into dunes on North Wildwood’s beach and a house was swept into the water in Middle Township.

01 Oct 2015

A new disaster resource for Ocean County

TOMS RIVER A new Ocean County site for storm information should be on line by Friday, Oct. 2.

The Ocean County Community Organizations Active in Disaster or OC COAD, will collect and disseminate important information about Hurricane Joaquin and other upcoming storms, according to Sue Marticek, executive director of the Ocean County Long-Term Recovery Group.

“We want people to know that this is where you can go to get accurate information,” Marticek said Thursday. She said the new group will send out email blasts containing pertinent storm information and will also send texts to people’s mobile phones. To receive information from the new group, send an email to and include your cell phone number for text updates.

Information about places to evacuate, if necessary, and shelters where pets are accepted are samples of the types of messages the new group could send out. It will also serve as a clearinghouse for where to volunteer and what to donate in the event a storm or other disaster does occur.

The OC COAD site will attempt to coordinate and disseminate vital information so that residents will have one place to turn to for important updates

“There are 560-some municipalities throughout the state, and they all tend to do their own thing,” said Keith Adams, the chairman of New Jersey Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, a statewide consortium of volunteer groups active in disaster response.

Adams’ group and the Ocean County Department of Human Services are working with the long-term recovery group to create the new OC COAD site.

Jean Mikle: (732) 643-4050,

25 Sep 2015

Sandy advocates: We’ll help you reopen flood claim

24 Sep 2015

Get Help Requesting A Sandy Flood Insurance Claim Review Today

If you’re thinking about it, the Ocean County Long Term Recovery Group volunteers can help. The window for reviews closes in mid-October.

Get Help Requesting A Sandy Flood Insurance Claim Review Today

Members of the Ocean County Long Term Recovery group will be on hand at St. Mary’s of the Pines church in Manahawkin today to help Superstorm Sandy victims through the FEMA claims review process.

Community advocates, lawyers and insurance experts will be available to provide one-on-one assistance. Appointments are preferable. To make an appointment, call 732-2569-3484, ext. 24. Walk-ins are welcome on a first-come, first-served basis.

 The church is located at 100 Bishop Way in Manahawkin. The clinic will run from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. The assistance is free.

FEMA and the National Flood Insurance Program recently extended the deadline to file for a claims review until mid-October.

Photo credit: Patricia A. Miller