In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, many of the state’s residents have slowly gotten back on their feet, while so many others still remain without a place to live as well as power. Numerous displaced families along the Jersey Shore have seek refuge in the homes of family members throughout the state, but some many others are still waiting for an answer to their prayers. Well that answer is about three weeks away as federal and state officials are in the process of getting Fort Monmouth ready to house families who lost their homes about a month ago.
Department of Community Affairs spokesperson Lisa Ryan told The Record that construction has begun at the military base to renovate 60 one-bedroom units into 15 three-bedroom and 30 one-bedroom units, while additional housing could be made readily available depending on the growing needs of New Jersey residents and an evaluation by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The base, which is not far from some of the towns that were ravaged by Sandy and lies on a sprawling 1,126-acre lot is the ideal place to relocate Sandy victims in the base and was presented by Eatontown Mayor Gerald J. Tarantolo.
“First of all, it’s not being used,” Tarantolo said of Fort Monmouth, which closed its doors in September 2011 due to high costs. “We already have security through state police in that area. We already have a commitment from three towns to provide emergency services if there is a fire or something of that sort. And that fact that many units have been vacant for a couple of years tells me the magnitude of the job to get them operational isn’t all that great.”
Currently, the military base renovations are underway on the Oceanport building to get it ready for 45 families, Ryan said to The Record, noting that FEMA will ultimately decide which residents will be able to move onto the base.
She said, adding that if all goes smoothly, construction will take about three weeks.
According to Governor Chris Christie, officials were working diligently to get the fort open as soon as possible, and eventually 400 to 600 people could be lodged at the base. Additionally, more than 7,000 rental units throughout the state of New Jersey have been identified by the state’s Disaster Housing Task Force (NDHTF), to be utilized by storm victims. The NDHTF promotes strategic planning across the disaster housing continuum of sheltering, interim housing, and permanent housing to help communities prepare for, and recover from disaster.