New concerns in New Jersey’s superstorm recovery for 2016
New challenges are arising for Sandy-impacted homeowners till trying to rebuild from the October, 2012 hurricane.
Sue Marticek, executive director of the Ocean County Long Term Recovery Group (OCLTRG), said some residents who were forced to knock down their homes or took advantage of free municipal demolition programs thinking they were saving money, are now having difficulty getting additional funding from their National Flood Insurance Policy (NFIP) claims.
"We have a big challenge trying to fight for them for their foundations because they don't have the house anymore," said Marticek.
Marticek explained that proving Sandy damaged the foundation is difficult for those who may not have had photo proof or an independent engineering report as evidence.
"There was never any clarity to these homeowners from day one. You have one government agency telling you to do one thing, you have another government agency telling you do do another. The lack of clarity for these homeowners from the start has really cost them a lot," Marticek said.
Marticek added that asking people to go back more than three years to show evidence again to justify a case for additional funding is difficult.
Sandy survivors are dealing with three major obstacles at this stage in the recovery, according to Marticek.
"One is again, dealing with the NFIP review process; two is still navigating and closing out of the RREM [Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation] program; and then three is contractor fraud and disputes. Those three issues are basically the biggest stumbling blocks in this recovery," said Marticek.
Marticek said workshops covering those three areas will be needed this year, in 2016 with professionals who can get to the bottom of the cases and help clients.
"The amount of contractor fraud and contractor disputes that are out there is phenomenal, and when the dust settles, I think that is going to be, if not the biggest obstacle that hit New Jersey, it's going to be up there in the top three easily," Marticek said.
Marticek added that when a homeowner gets ripped off or they're in a dispute, they're recovery comes to a complete halt.
The OCLTRG has been working with the Volunteer Lawyers for Justice and the Community Health Law Project to create a Sandy task force to review each case individually.
Marticek pointed out that she thinks non-profit builders will have a more significant role this year.
"I think they are truly are going to be the last hope for a lot of people," added Marticek.