Residents who gathered online on Oct. 29 to mark the eighth anniversary of Superstorm Sandy were joined by Rep. Andy Kim of New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District. It was the Southern Ocean County-based New Jersey Organizing Project’s timely reminder that, for many families, the effects of Sandy are still felt.
Some lost their rental assistance this summer; many have yet to see the supplemental funding the state announced two years ago; and some who are home are facing “clawbacks,” i.e. being asked to repay government funding they have already spent on reconstruction.
“Superstorm Sandy may be a memory for some, but it’s still a harsh reality for too many families in our community,” Kim said. “We’ve made progress over the past two years on clawbacks and flood insurance reform, but the fight won’t be over until everyone is back in their homes and financially secure. I want to thank the New Jersey Organizing Project and their members for their incredible work to lift up the voices of victims, and I will keep working alongside our families to get them the justice and security they truly deserve.”
While it was a virtual event, Sandy families in attendance were active in the Zoom chat, with many sharing they had recently lost their rental assistance and were not home yet.
With a letter-writing campaign to Gov. Phil Murphy, NJOP is calling on the state to get supplemental funding to as many families as it can, as quickly as it can, given COVID-19 has slowed down many things and created new challenges – including with construction.
Legislation S2340/A4034, waiting to be voted on in the Senate, would offer relief to many New Jerseyans impacted by COVID. Event organizers called on participants to send a letter to their state senators encouraging them to pass the bill.
“My Sandy saga began eight years ago when I had to muck out my home and toss my belongings to the curb,” said NJOP board President Joe Mangino. “Over the years I’ve had to fight my insurance company, fight my mortgage company, fight my contractor, and fight a broken recovery system.
“I have one fight left in me, and that’s to end the unfair practice of grant clawbacks. Through no fault of our own, myself and other Sandy-impacted families are being asked to return our grants in amounts ranging from a few thousand dollars to a hundred thousand dollars.”
Speakers noted many of the problems they faced after Sandy have still not been fixed. For example, the National Flood Insurance Program has yet to be reformed, and communities hit by Superstorm Sandy are still largely unprepared for worsening storms and rising seas.
Belmar’s Krista Sperber described the sentiment eight years on as “weary but determined.”
“We need to prepare for future flooding by fighting for the solutions our communities deserve: an improved infrastructure, clean energies like wind power, and a National Flood Insurance Program that works for the people, and not just the big banks and insurance companies. And I know that when we fight together, we win.” —V.F.