3 years, 3 voices: Superstorm survivors still can’t go home

29 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Sweeney: Now isn’t time for Christie to take ‘victory lap’ on Sandy recovery.

TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A group of protesters is camping out near the New Jersey Statehouse all week to remind lawmakers that many Superstorm Sandy victims still need help. “We’re one day from the (third) anniversary of Sandy, and thousands of families unfortunately are still not home for good,” Joe Mangino told WCBS 880’s Levon Putney.

Three years ago, Hurricane Sandy tore into the coast of New York and New Jersey destroying hundreds homes and business, costing more than 100 lives and tens of billions of dollars in damage, and bringing transit systems to a halt. Chris Christie and his administration prepare to mark the third anniversary of Hurricane Sandy this week with events throughout the state, state Senate President Stephen Sweeney on Wednesday said that “now is not the time to take a victory lap.” Sweeney (D-Gloucester) joined with advocates and residents at the World War II Memorial in Trenton to focus on what still needs to be done for the state to fully recover from the October 2012 storm, including getting thousands of residents who have not yet finished rebuilding through a state-run program back home for good. Only 39 percent they are satisfied with New Jersey’s recovery effort, with only 6 percent saying they were “very satisfied.” A total of 34 percent said they were “very dissatisfied.” “In many hard-hit residents’ opinions, the state has simply not done enough to adequately address their most pressing needs,” said Tim Tracey, project director for Monmouth’s Sandy Recovery Survey, which has tracked the experiences of approximately 500 New Jersey residents suffering severe storm damage every year since the storm’s first anniversary. Meanwhile, Joan Strathern, of Ortley Beach, is among those calling on state and local governments to use eminent domain to force holdouts to give up land to build the protective dunes. For the purposes of the Monmouth study, “hardest-hit” was defined as those who were displaced from their homes for a month or more or who sustained $8,000 or more in damages to their primary residence.

That’s all I can tell you.” Christie spokesman Brian Murray called it “sad” that Sweeney is “so consumed with political sniping that he can so easily wipe his feet on the hard work and community cooperation that has enabled New Jersey to progress substantially from the worst natural disaster in our state’s history.” Residents struggling to recover from Sandy have faced a host of problems from flood insurance shortfalls to contractor fraud. However, because survey respondents were recruited using a variety of non-probability methods, the survey results cannot be statistically projected to the larger population of all Sandy victims in the state. But critics have also targeted the state’s handling of federal aid, particularly in connection with the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation, or RREM, program. The state Department of Community Affairs said nearly 2,000 of the more than 8,000 homeowners in the RREM program have now finished construction and about 50 homes are completed in an average week.

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