Archive for the ‘Hurricane legacy’ Category

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor  @Blogfinger

In December 1992, a vicious nor’easter destroyed the Ocean Grove Boardwalk and Fishing Pier. FEMA, understanding that the Ocean Grove boardwalk was owned by a private non-profit group (The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association,) readily agreed to pay for the reconstruction of those beachfront structures.

After that, FEMA regulations were changed, many times, over the ensuing years.  We don’t know exactly which/when regulatory changes affecting PNP’s  (private non-profits) were put in place, but OG ended up being rejected  by FEMA after Sandy, and we don’t know why those changes were made.

Ralph delCampo, interim COO of the OGCMA, in interviews with Blogfinger, said, at least twice, that we were suffering now because of rule changes made after Katrina hit New Orleans on August 29, 2005. New regulations were published in 2007.

Yet it seems that if we were eligible in 1992, then surely we should be eligible now.  If our boardwalk was understood to be for the public good then, so why is it now written off as a “recreational facility?”  Nothing has changed with respect to the Boardwalk’s functions.  If there were problems after Katrina, how could that have been something that would cause the rejection of  Ocean Grove now?

Consider this quote from the New York Times, last week;  in an article about how the Governor has been recently criticized regarding his failure to rebuild after Sandy in many parts of the Shore and to return thousands of citizens to their homes:

“Mr. Christie has blamed the slowness of federal agencies for delays in getting money to residents, and said that New Jersey was paying for the sins from Hurricane Katrina, as the Federal Emergency Management Agency put up hurdles to prevent fraud.”

Again a reference to Katrina, this time from the Governor, and it is about fraud after Katrina.   So how does Katrina fraud in New Orleans result in making OG ineligible for aid after Sandy?

Is it possible that Ocean Grove is being punished by being swept up in a storm of regulatory changes that weren’t meant to hurt places like the Grove?  Perhaps the issue was also one of cost cutting, but why cut out our boardwalk when it was equally as deserving as all other boardwalks back in 1992?  If cost is the concern, then why pay for every boardwalk except ours?

Here’s a quote from a FEMA regulatory statement dated 2007:

“FEMA policy 2007 ineligible PNP Facilities. ‘ Some PNP facilities that might have been assisted prior to 1993 are no longer eligible under the governing statutes and regulations. Examples include:  recreation facilities, etc.’ “

We have complained on Blogfinger that OG has been treated unfairly. BF is not the only source of such complaints on behalf of the Grove.  Below is a resolution from the NJ Legislature  (the link is below)

The synopsis says:   “…. urges the President and FEMA to ensure funding necessary to repair Ocean Grove’s boardwalk”



No. 103




Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman  MARY PAT ANGELINI

District 11 (Monmouth)


District 11 (Monmouth) 


njleg resolution

When I appeared on a panel   (BF Link to podcast  ) recently to discuss our situation, Mark DiIonno, a Star Ledger columnist who was nominated for a Pulitzer this year said, referring to our denial by FEMA, “Their reasoning was absurd regarding the designation of the OG boards as  ‘recreational,'”

He noted that every boardwalk in New Jersey was recreational in the same way that ours is.  He referred to the “skewed reasoning of FEMA.”

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Image 1

Sent by Estella:  1904  "..was up and down the boardwalk until 9:30 o'clock."

Sent by Estella: 1904 “..was up and down the boardwalk until 9:30 o’clock.”

On June 3, Frank S., a resident of Ocean Grove, commented regarding our failure to obtain FEMA funding. He said,  “Could OGCMA place a special assessment of $250 to $500 on its approximately 3000 homeowners/tenants ??”

No one reacted to his suggestion, even though the idea could have produced $1.5 million.   Now we see that there is a precedent going back to 1885.

Rich Amole, amateur OG history sleuth, found this news item in a long out-of-print book called “The Story of Ocean Grove…1869-1919.” The book was copyright in 1919 by the author Morris Daniels, a trustee of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association.

Rich says, “That paragraph is on page 265 and relates to a storm of 11/25/1885.”

November 1885

The book goes on to say that the citizens responded with “spirit” and that “the responses were a great encouragement to the Association.”  The assessments were voluntary. The total expense, including the repairs to the sewer amounted to $6,500.00 with the remaining $1,500.00 paid by the CMA.

J.H. Thornley, one of the members of the Executive Committee and D.H. Brown, Esq, the treasurer, “drove the nails next to the last, and the president the last in the the new boardwalk at 11:40 am, June 18 1885. …..refreshments and general congratulations followed.”

As many of you know, there were quite a few destructive storms that clobbered the Grove over the ensuing years, and there were a number of boardwalks and piers that were rebuilt by the OGCMA and perhaps the citizens as well.

At no time, until 1992, did the Federal government (FEMA)  ever help with rebuilding a boardwalk here.  At that time, the government had decided that it was its responsibility to help communities after bad storms, and that n’oreaster caused horrid damage to the beachfront.

In 1993 the rules were changed, and we have now been excluded by FEMA because of a technicality.  FEMA has focused on the ownership of the boardwalk instead of  focusing on our citizens who deserve to have their very public boardwalk restored by FEMA, so as to provide us with the same economic, safety, emergency, life style and access advantages that other neighboring towns have.

In addition, the CMA, in 1885, recognized that a boardwalk improved the financial value of all the homes in the Grove.  Those of you homeowners in town who cheered FEMA for denying help to the CMA are out of step with history, with fair logic and with your own financial interest.

—Paul Goldfinger, Editor  @Blogfinger

Annette Hanshaw–“It All Depends on You.”

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By Paul Goldfinger, editor @Blogfinger

Long Branch boardwalk post-Sandy  (Long Branch Patch)

Long Branch boardwalk post-Sandy (Long Branch Patch)

Long Branch not only hasn’t rebuilt its Sandy-damaged boardwalk, it hasn’t even designed the new one. Although it expects to receive money from FEMA, it has no idea how much money it will get.  As a result, the city council there has not given their engineers the go ahead to plan the project. Mayor Adam Schneider is quoted by the Link News  (latest October edition) as saying, “A $10 million boardwalk would be designed differently than a $14 million boardwalk.” He said that he hoped the amount will be disclosed sooner than later.

As in Ocean Grove’s situation, the goal is to build a new boardwalk that is designed to withstand the ravages of another super storm.   There is one cautionary note:  FEMA will pay to rebuild boardwalks as they were before the storm.  They do not pay for newly designed  structural enhancements such as bulkheads.

Interestingly, the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association has gone ahead with planning for its project so that work can be begun as soon as financing is achieved.

A citizen questioned the Long Branch mayor as to why they are still waiting while Seaside Heights and other towns have already rebuilt.  He said that Long Branch’s situation is technically different because of the loss of sand and “bluffs.”  Long Branch took out a note for $5 million shortly after Sandy, but, as noted, no FEMA funds have arrived.

Unfortunately, 42 shore towns have sold nearly $400 million in short-term debt at a relatively high interest rate in order to get their recovery projects going after Sandy, expecting to be paid back by FEMA, but now some of those towns are sweating because FEMA has been slow to pay, even though Congress approved over $800 million for Jersey in January 2013.

Belmar is one of those towns that took on debt to begin a project that was estimated to cost $20 million.  The town borrowed multiple millions of dollars.  This summer, Belmar did receive $9.2 million from the feds  (Belmar Manasquan Patch July 13, 2013).   Manasquan borrowed over $3 million in August, and they are desperate to get the promised federal help

Long Beach Island borrowed $8 million in March and has only received 9% back from FEMA. Mayor Mancini of Long Beach Township said, “It’s an absolute disgrace that we’re going to have to go out and bond nine months after the money’s been appropriated by Congress.  We can’t self-fund any more. Our pockets aren’t that deep.”  (Bloomberg )

Asbury Park approved an emergency appropriation of $7.1 million that will be allocated over five years.  Their project was initially estimated at $12 million. We don’t know if they received any FEMA checks.

As for Neptune, the Manasquan Patch reported on August 23,   “Neptune Township, which includes hard hit areas of Ocean Grove and Shark River Hills, received …… just more than $1.9 million, according to the figures.

“Lynn Servon, secretary of the Neptune Township Economic Development Corporation, said FEMA estimated the township’s damages at around $7.2 million.”

This is the first we have  heard about FEMA payments to Neptune.  For more information about the Neptune payments, see comments.

FEMA paid $3 million to Seaside Heights for their boardwalk after Sandy, but the final bill will be much higher. Now, after the fire, the two Seasides expect to get $1.4 million more to re-do their boardwalks.  Reuters reported that there will be help for [at least 30]  privately owned businesses at the Seasides including Bubba’s Dog House, Kupper’s French Fries, and Marruca’s Tomato Pies.”

This is from Philly.com (Sept 19):     “The state chapter of Americans for Prosperity, which is affiliated with the tea party, believes the state should not cover fire losses that cannot definitively be tied to Sandy. And left-leaning housing advocacy groups say funds should not be diverted to unrelated needs as long as displaced New Jerseyans are still on waiting lists for housing aid.”   In addition, they asked, “So why is Sandy relief money being earmarked to rebuild burned structures – including, according to Christie, businesses unaffected by the storm?”

Sept. 13, 2013

Sept. 13, 2013

In May, the Point Pleasant Beach had received no money from FEMA for their boardwalk. They complained loudly and got a check for $2.1 million. (Point Pleasant.Patch.com)

When Spring Lake did not get its money, Rep Chris Smith (Monmouth County  4th district-replacing Rep. Pallone for OG) went to bat, and FEMA awarded Spring Lake over $4 million in federal funding in June toward the $5.5 million cost to replace their boardwalk.  Rep Smith said, “Boardwalks are the economic lifeline of beach towns, which would not fully recover unless their boardwalks are rebuilt and open for tourism. I will continue to work to help Spring Lake and other towns recover and rebuild.”  Rep Smith also announced  $2.3 million for Avon-By-the-Sea.

Rep. Chris Smith (r) in Avon.

Rep. Chris Smith (r) in Avon.

However, the people of Ocean Grove have never seen our Rep (Smith) in town. Most of us don’t even know he exists.  We are told that he is working on our behalf, but he really should show his face down by our grassy/sandy middle beach strip and say something to the people of Ocean Grove.

Our Senator Menendez is quoted as saying, when discussing Pt. Pleasant, “I will continue fighting for the federal resources we need to help all New Jersey communities rebuild even better and stronger than before the storm.”  (Pt. Pleasant Patch)  Where is he on Ocean Grove’s unique situation where our citizens are being treated unfairly?

The Governor said that part of the reimbursement slowdown is because some of  the towns did not do their paperwork properly.  (Ouch!)

As a result of the borrowing,  Moody’s gave negative credit ratings to Belmar, Lavallette, Sea Bright and Long Beach Twp.  Seaside Heights was significantly downgraded.

In June, FEMA said that it would reimburse these towns 90% of their expenses.

We may not have all the numbers right , but clearly only a small amount of approved FEMA money has actually been received by the towns around here. This is worrisome and requires our attention along with our chronic concern about the citizens of Ocean Grove’s status at the bottom of the heap.

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Sophia and Paula Giglio of New City, New York, have a second home in the Grove. They decided to come down this weekend and lend a hand to the group that was busy shoveling sand off the grassy area just east of Ocean Avenue, opposite Main.  They brought two wheelbarrows along, which they donated.  Dad was in New York City working as a physician.

But most of the workers, about 40 of them, showed up this morning in a large green bus that had been hired by the Calvary Baptist Church of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.  These church volunteers were working side-by-side with members of the OG Beautification Project who were determined to eliminate the sandy berms  (ie piles of sand) that were burying the beach roses (rosa rugosa) and preventing spring planting.  Connie Ogden, wearing a bright red OG sweatshirt, had a shovel in her hand while giving me the rundown  (no, not rubdown.)  I needed that because the cast of characters was like an anthill, busy as bees  (sorry for the insect analogies.)

You could see the problem because the roses were starting to bloom, and only their little rose heads could be seen sticking out of the sand.

A very special group of workers, from the American Fence and Flag company  (see post below) were concentrating on the pier and the South End.  There were about six of them, and they also came on the same bus.  Mr. Bill Bailey of the OGCMA took me over to see what was going on.  The CMA engineers had decided that 167 feet of the pier could be salvaged and safely used. Mr. Bailey viewed this project as being important for the morale of the town—“to give hope for the future.”

A group of Pennsylvania carpenters were up on the pier replacing damaged board planks with reclaimed boards from the Sandy mess. Those boards look like new, because they are new, having been placed last year after Irene. Other volunteers from that Pa. company were installing, sanding and painting the metal railings.

We met the Clarke family from Sterling , New Jersey. They were watching the work, impressed with all the activity.  They happily posed for a photo and told us that they often visit the Grove, and they feel good about the restoration effort unfolding in front of them. The Majestic Hotel is their home base  this weekend.

Mr. Bailey busied himself walking around and interacting with the workers, trying to help expedite the situation. He has lived in Ocean Grove for much of his life, and this volunteer effort was deeply impressive to him, but not surprising. He also admitted that these volunteers are saving the CMA a large amount of money that can be used for the ongoing storm recovery.

—text and all photos by Paul Goldfinger


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Ocean Grove Fishing Pier, 2004.  Paul Goldfinger photo

Ocean Grove Fishing Pier, 2004. Paul Goldfinger photo

By Paul Goldfinger

Many of you are probably unaware that Ocean Grove has a past history of being rejected by FEMA, and that history reverberates today. In early 2012, the OGCMA received word that FEMA would not provide funds to repair the fishing pier damage that resulted from the 2011 hurricane Irene.   The rejection was a surprise because the CMA had received help in the past for prior storm damage to the Great Auditorium.

The reason for the FEMA Irene damage denial had to do with the recreational functions of the pier, and a related component may have been due to the fact that the public had no access to the private fishing club area.  In a recent discussion with Mr. delCampo of the OGCMA, he was concerned that the current Sandy appeal might be negatively impacted  if the CMA were to agree now that the fishing club would  be reestablished at the end of the pier where it has been located for many years.

At this time,  rebuilding the pier has been declared a lower priority by the CMA, and they have not been willing to enter into discussions regarding the fishing club’s future at this time.  The OG fishing club has about nine years left on its CMA lease for the pier, but it’s not clear if that lease will be honored in the future.

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This photograph is by Grover Dave Garufi , who says, “Lowest low tide.  Can see the deepest posts poking through the ocean.  Adds a better perspective of how much of the pier is really gone.”          Thanks to Dave for posting on Blogfinger.

Ocean Grove beach near the fishing pier.  By Dave Garufi, February 21, 2013

Ocean Grove beach near the fishing pier “at the lowest low tide.”  By Dave Garufi, February 21, 2013

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