By Brenda Flanagan
“Today is the start of the Atlantic hurricane season, which is kind of part of the reason we’re here today,” Joe Mangino told a group of New Jersey storm survivors who Thursday marked the start of hurricane season by reminding state lawmakers they’re still suffering from damage inflicted by Hurricane Ida in 2021 and even Superstorm Sandy almost 11 years ago.
Mangino, a Manahawkin resident who struggled for years to recover from Superstorm Sandy, co-founded the New Jersey Organizing Project to help other families. “Sandy families are standing with Ida families, because we’re all facing the same broken system — across storms, years and county lines,” he told the crowd gathered outside the State House Annex.
Advocates support three pieces of legislation they say could offer significant relief to survivors of both Sandy and Ida. One bill appropriates $100 million for Ida victims. Another provides $22 million for Sandy families and forgives so-called clawbacks that seek to recover grants made to elevate the homes of storm victims like 80-year-old Ventnor retiree Fran Baronowitz. The state wants her to pay back $35,000. “I don’t have it,” Baronowitz said. “I live on Social Security and the little bit of pension I get from my job.”
A third bill offers 18 months of mortgage payment forbearance for Ida survivors and would protect an estimated 2,000 of them now facing foreclosure. It would give families like the Hosgoods in Manville a fighting chance to recover. “Mortgage forbearance would be a major lifeline,” Stefanie Hosgood said. “It’d give us the time and money we need to start paying for the repairs we need, eliminate debt from repairs we already did, and possessions we had to replace and give us the breathing room we need to get back on our feet.”