BY ADELE SAMMARCO
Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-Long Branch) is calling on New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to use more than $1.8 billion in federal dollars from the Superstorm Sandy relief package passed by Congress in January to help homeowners with repairs to their flood damaged homes.
The funding represents the first wave of Community Development Block Grant funding, which may be used to help repair devastated houses and small businesses torn apart by Sandy nearly five months ago. Pallone outlined how the funding should be used to help storm victims in a letter he sent to Christie Tuesday.
“With $1,829,520,000 allocated to the state of New Jersey for this first wave of CDBG funding, it will be critical to expeditiously pay out these funds to struggling homeowners and businesses that need financial assistance to rebuild and recover from the historic storm.” said Pallone. “One of my key concerns regarding this action plan is ensuring sufficient funds are set aside to aid homeowners who are pursuing buyouts in areas where they have faced severe and repetitive damages to their homes from flooding. I have met with a number of homeowners in my district, in communities like Sayreville, where their homes have flooded so many times that they feel the only option is to pursue a buyout and move on.”
Pallone wants enough funding to be made available for those homeowners who need to elevate their homes. For many, homeowner’s insurance as well as FEMA assistant does not even cover the high cost of elevating their homes.
Then there are those homeowners who did not sustain substantial damage, however are in an area where they must raise their home to reduce risk of flooding from another catastrophic storm. Many of those homeowners in need do not fall into the category of low-to-moderate-income households and can not meet potential income eligibility requirements.
Numerous small business owners also need help recovering and do not qualify for Small Business Administration disaster loans to cover the cost of their damages.
In addition, commercial and recreational fishing businesses are struggling to recover from serious losses incurred from the historic storm and are also suffering. They say distributing the funds sooner than later can help them get back on their feet.
Meantime, Governor Christie has yet to distribute the $32 million raised by his wife’s charity for victims of Hurricane Sandy.
The Mary Pat Christie Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund reported it had donated the first $1 million to agencies in Monmouth and Ocean counties, which is only 3% of the total money raised.
The governor said an additional $5 million will be distributed in the next few weeks.