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Ocean City Victim Of Hurricane Sandy: 'I Feel Like I’m Returning From Afghanistan'

Sandy victims pleaded their case during a public hearing at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey

Victims of Superstorm Sandy say they still feel neglected by the government 16 months after the storm-of-the-century hit the Jersey Shore.

They voiced their displeasure during a hearing for the state’s use of $1.4 billion is Sandy relief funding Tuesday afternoon at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.

“I feel like I’m returning from Afghanistan," said Georgina Shanley, an Ocean City resident for nearly 28 years. “I’m not receiving any of the services I was promised. Is the purpose of the DCA to assist us or make us into adversaries so they don’t have to pay the compensation?”

Shanley explained many people in Ocean City have given up seeking aid from the state because the Department of Consumer Affairs has been so difficult to deal with. She added that while there are people in Ocean City who remain without homes, the businesses are being restored at a rapid rate.

“Builders and contractors are in Ocean City like a frenzy,” she said. “Buildings are going up everywhere. There’s no long term plan to deal with Global Warming and there’s no transparency.”

She went beyond the three-minute time limit speakers were asked to adhere to, but when Marc Ferzan, the Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Recovery and Rebuilding attempted to prevent her from speaking further, the rest of the assembled public came to her defense.

“Let her speak,” many people told him until he relented.

Shanley’s example of homeless people suffering while businesses were rebuilt and tourism was supported was a familiar refrain.

“There are still 20,000 homeless people in the state,” said Jeff Tittel, Executive Director of the Sierra Club of New Jersey.

He added the state hasn’t updated building codes and doesn’t have a Climate Control Plan in place, which he says has resulted in the State of New York receiving more funding than New Jersey in  the aftermath of the storm.

“You’re not dealing with the major issues, and you’re putting more people at risk,” Tittel said. “You’re not following science, you’re following political science.”

As for the emphasis on tourism, Toms River resident Gina Pizzuto pleaded with the state not to run the “Stronger Than The Storm” ad campaign again this year.
“It’s demeaning and it’s misleading,” Pizzuto said. “My family from up north brought their seven-year-old down this summer and they were horrified to see the damage. They said there’s nowhere to take him. Please don’t run it again this summer. We are not stronger than this storm.”

She complained about the transparency in the recovery process.

“How many people have received funding and how much have they received?” she asked, adding the funding wouldn’t be necessary if “the insurance companies did what they were supposed to do in the first place.”

“I couldn’t get insured because my loss was due to the movement of the Earth under my house,” she said. “There was movement under my house because of the storm.”

Others pointed to areas that have not received much attention, if any, including Cumberland County and Atlantic County.

“I’m from Brigantine,” Jane Peltonen said.. “Remember Brigantine? Gov. Christie and President Obama walked through our town two days after the storm hit and assured us help was on the way. Since then, one house has been lifted. … We’ve been waiting too long. The towns that have been impacted should’ve gotten help already.”

“Come to Atlantic County and see what’s going on down here,” pleaded Robert Giraldo, of Pleasantville.

The hearing was held to discuss the state’s use of plan to spend $1.46 billion in additional federal funds to help New Jersey residents and businesses recover from Superstorm Sandy.

The state proposes spending $735 million on housing assistance programs, with $450 million of that going to low-to-moderate-income families.

Another $535 million would go to infrastructure programs, including providing reliable power to critical public facilities including hospitals, shelters and wastewater treatment plants; and to provide flood protection for high-risk areas.

Additional hearings take place Wednesday at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) in Essex County and Thursday at Brookdale Community College in Monmouth County.

Comments made during all hearings, as well as comments submitted via email and mail through March 5, will be included in the final report.

Written comments can be submitted by email to sandy.publiccomment@dca.state.nj.us or can be provided by mail to the following address:

Attn: Gabrielle Gallagher, NJ Department of Community Affairs, ‘

101 South Broad Street, Post Office Box 800, Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0800.

A copy of the proposed plan is available on the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs website.

vic February 11, 2014 at 09:13 PM
georgina, do you have a problem because many of the businesses in ocean city provided their own funding to repair their businesses after the storm?
Frank February 11, 2014 at 09:40 PM
This entire state is a disgrace.
Beach Mover February 12, 2014 at 04:36 AM
@A Bellamo could you please tell me where this statistic comes from? “There are still 20,000 homeless people in the state,” said Jeff Tittel, Executive Director of the Sierra Club of New Jersey." Does anybody else know?
Oceancity Resident February 12, 2014 at 06:29 AM
I find it difficult to care about any issue that our good friends Georgina and Steven are protesting. They are husband and wife correct? Do they keep separate names so they can each get their names in various news stories on whatever they are protesting that particular week. It seems they are stuck in the 60s or just like the attention but there isn't an issue that goes by that they aren't there rabble rousing for attention. You would think a wealthy retired physician wouldn't need government assistance...wouldn't you.
Beach Mover February 12, 2014 at 06:49 AM
I just fell this article is full of things that make no sense , global warming might be a important issue to many but if there ard really 20,000 people homeless let's worry about that first. Global warming can wait a few months. I have been to Ocean City 4 times since the storm. I am sorry to say I saw nothing horrifying about the damage. I could not even tell. Come up by me on thd barrier island. Much more damage but summer was ok. People working and getting better.
Frank February 12, 2014 at 07:46 PM
The reason why you did not see any visible damage is because our LOCAL government was phenomenal in assisting us with our recovery. However, our FEDERAL/STATE government did NOTHING!!!!

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