Posts Tagged ‘Ocean Grove citizens denied FEMA funding’

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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