For Immediate Release
(Trenton) – New Jersey families are enduring hardship – not only from the consequences of furloughed jobs, denied services and delayed benefits -- but also from the Christie administration’s neglect regarding hurricane Sandy recovery efforts, says the New Jersey Democratic State Committee.
Unfortunately, with hurricane season again upon us, frustrated survivors of super storm Sandy should not expect accountability from a state executive busy grandstanding in Washington, and, apparently, nor can state legislators expect Christie’s administration to even show up at important hearings.
Could it be because the state contractors chosen as a result of contributions to Christie’s Republican allies? And, despite $180 million in federal money available to Sandy survivors, why have none of the families eligible for $150,000 Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation, and Mitigation Program loans reportedly been able to put those funds to work toward rebuilding and repairing their storm-damaged homes, and returning to the lives they lived?
“Sadly, the resolve of hurricane Sandy’s survivors is not shared by a Christie administration that seems focused anywhere but here,” said Matt Farrauto, communications director for the New Jersey Democratic State Committee. “The unwillingness of the state officials responsible for recovery efforts to show up at these legislative hearings is a punch in the gut to everyone who rallied to the call that ‘we are stronger than the storm.’ New Jersey deserves a governor that will work for us, not one that disappears when television cameras are no longer present.”
Watch the survivors tell their stories and read the headlines of the Christie administration’s neglect below.
THE SURVIVORS’ STORIES
John and Lee Ann’s Story
Philadelphia Inquirer -- 10/01/13
For the third time, top state officials - including a so-called Hurricane Sandy czar - failed to attend a bipartisan legislative hearing on the progress of recovery efforts from still-homeless storm victims and others. Storm victims Monday said the officials' absence added insult to injury.
“Sandy’s Gone But Red Tape Still Snarls Rebuilding Efforts”
NJ SPOTLIGHT -- 10/01/13
Residents’ frustrations poured out in emotional speeches yesterday, with witnesses fighting back to tears, as they appeared before two legislative committees during a third public hearing held in the Statehouse Annex on efforts to rebuild after the storm. Lawmakers shared in the frustration. Legislators were miffed that two prominent Christie administration officials they had invited to the joint hearing -- Marc Fenzer, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Recovery and Rebuilding, and Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Richard Constable -- failed to show, making it the second time that has happened during legislative hearings on the issue.
“Lawmakers Hold 3rd Public Hearing on Sandy at State Capital; Displaced Homeowners Voice Frustrations”
News 12 – 9/30/13
Joanne Gwin from Toms River says she still lives in a rental apartment, almost a year after the storm. "One year out of our home and we're looking at another Christmas with a table top Christmas tree in our little apartment," Gwin says. "Instead of introducing our grandson to our 9-foot Christmas tree which has always been our tradition." Lawmakers invited several of Gov. Chris Christie's department heads to attend, but according to a spokesperson for the committee, none showed up.
“Sandy Contractor Criticized at New Jersey Hearing”
Wall Street Journal – 9/30/13
A state legislative hearing Monday on New Jersey’s progress recovering from superstorm Sandy took up issue with the contractor administering home rebuilding grants. Homeowners featured in stories in The Wall Street Journal last week testified about troubles applying for the grants in the program, run by Hammerman & Gainer Inc., or HGI. “They are undertrained and not very pleasant and everyone I talked to gave me a different answer of what we should do,” said Kathleen Fisher about her experience in applying for a grant.
“Sandy Victims Say They Are Tired of Waiting; Need Answers Now”
Star-Ledger – 9/30/13
Joanne Gwin wants to go home, but nearly one year after Hurricane Sandy she still has little certainty about when she’ll be able to return… Gwin told a panel of state lawmakers in Trenton today that her only option now is to wait. “We wait to find out how much, if any, of the grant money we will receive. We wait to knock down the existing mold-covered structure, which continues to deteriorate with each passing day,” she said. “We wait to go home.”
“Sandy Victims Want Help With Insurers, Bureaucrats”
Associated Press -- 9/30/13
At a legislative hearing in Trenton on the pace of the state's recovery from the Oct. 29 storm, several people whose homes or businesses were wrecked said they are still waiting for help... Simone Dannecker, who tearfully testified on the difficulties her family has had getting aid for their Union Beach home, said. "Nobody is being held accountable for their actions in this state. It's sickening. Nobody gets results. You're just another statistic, just another phone call."
“In Stafford Neighborhood, Residents Still Waiting for Post-Sandy Grants to Fix homes”
Star-Ledger – 9/30/13
Beach Haven West, an enclave of 4,000 homes in a lagoon-laced section of Stafford Township, was practically a ghost town over the summer. Many homes still stand dark and vacant, with overgrown lawns or black mold growing up the siding — a constant reminder of the destruction wrought by Hurricane Sandy 11 months ago. Others have been gutted and raised at least a dozen feet, hulking like monsters over their neighbors’ bungalows, as their owners prepare for future flooding.
“Residents Express Anger, Frustration at Post-Sandy Rebuilding to State Lawmakers”
Star-Ledger – 8/15/13
Residents looking to rebuild their homes after Hurricane Sandy told state lawmakers today they’ve been stuck in a morass of bureaucratic red tape as they try to get a share of the millions in federal housing funding being administered by the state.