Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Frustration vented at final Sandy recovery hearing in NJ

                                                                                       EnviroPolitics photo
Updated at 9:44 p.m. to add Star-Ledger story

A full year after, Hurricane Sandy is still an ill wind blowing through the lives of  
New Jersey shore residents and state political leaders, too.

The fourth in a series of joint public hearings held yesterday by the state legislature's
Senate and Assembly environmental committees exposed the level of frustration felt
by many--especially home owners who still are stuck in a paperwork and funding
morass, unable to elevate or repair their homes.

A few quotes reported today by the Asbury Park Press's Michael Symons:

"Diane Mazzucca of Beach Haven West told lawmakers her flood insurance bill went from roughly $600 a year to more than $5,000 and that her coverage was reduced.
“Our money is tied up trying to get back in our homes, fighting with the insurance companies, fighting with FEMA, fighting with the townships,” said Mazzucca, who said she’s been hospitalized twice for high blood pressure and her husband had a heart attack. “We are done. We are up to our limits.”
Steven Gwin of Silverton said the rebuilding settlement from his insurance adjuster offered less than half the money per square foot than is needed in New Jersey. “To say the last year has been a living hell for us is an understatement.”
Vincent Giglio of Ortley Beach said, “Last week, I was told that if we started any procedure in the elevation process, we would not be eligible. I realize that these programs are intended to help. They’re not. They are just putting one more obstacle in our way. After a year, for any authors of these grants to expect people to just sit around and do absolutely nothing is absolutely unconscionable.” 

At one point during the hearing, Republican Senator Jennifer Beck of Red Bank, who has assumed the job of defending the Christie administration's Sandy recovery program against criticism from Democrats, clashed with Senate committee chairman Bob Smith, a Democrat, and Republican Assemblyman Gregory McGuckin of Toms River tilted swords with NJ Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel.

On a positive note, the Democrats said they expect soon to introduce legislation that
would provide funds to help homeowners front the money needed to draw down federal
home-elevation aid.

Read the full story:
 State could provide loans to help Sandy victims elevate homes
Star-Ledger story added at 9:40 p.m. State program to release funds for Sandy victims

Related environmental news stories:
Fourth NJ legislative hearing today on Sandy recovery
NJ Sandy stories: Stingy insurers, bungling bureaucrats
Third NJ hearing today on hurricane recovery problems
North Jersey also felt Superstorm Sandy's punch 
Lawmakers hear other side of NJ's Sandy recovery story  
New Jersey environmentalists on what Sandy taught us

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