More than three years after Superstorm Sandy, only about a third of the New Jersey residents in the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation, and Mitigation Program have managed to rebuild their homes.
Governor Christie says everyone in the RREM program has signed grant agreements, and funds to rebuild are available as soon as they get a qualified contractor.
“So the problem now is we just don’t have enough construction companies competent and qualified within the state to be able to do all the work that needs to be done.”
Amanda Devecka-Rinear is the director of the New Jersey Organizing Project. She says many homeowners haven’t rebuilt because of delays in the REMM grant process.
“What Christie is doing is totally shifting the blame from his state’s inability to run a successful construction program to the guys on the ground that are trying to rebuild. It’s true that it’s difficult. That is not the problem.”
Beach Haven West resident Joe Mangino believes the administration of the RREM program has held up the rebuilding process.
“There are a lot of competent contractors out there that couldn’t become RREM qualified because the paperwork to get in was massive and they didn’t want to deal with it. That’s why you got stuck with some lower level contractors who had nothing better to do.”
Mangino says he had a contractor vetted by the state, and the project to elevate his Sandy-damaged home still isn’t complete a-year-and-a-half after the work began.
Christie claims the state has done an extraordinary job and the rebuilding has gone much quicker than in Louisiana and Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina.