That’s a similar emphasis to Debbie Mans with NY / NJ Baykeeper, an environmental group that’s studied Sandy’s impact on the Hudson-Raritan Estuary. She’d like to see more money invested in resiliency for facilities like oil refineries and wastewater treatment plants, many of which went offline and flooded, polluting area waters. “I think it’s fair to say that there was an emergency, you had to get money into housing, people didn’t have places to live, they [needed] food, clothing… And that is absolutely right to do that in the first tranche in an emergency,” she reasoned. “But this is about long-term planning and assessment and investment into the strategies that are going to protect the state moving forward.”
While most of the focus on the storm recovery thus far has been along the Jersey Shore and -- to a lesser degree – in flood-damaged parts of northern Jersey like Hoboken and Moonachie, Meghan Wren of the Bayshore Center at Bivalve thinks there needs to be more recognition of the needs of struggling residents and business owners along the Delaware Bay.
“Cumberland County has regretfully been neglected in much of the funding. It’s the so-called ‘tenth county’ and is ineligible for many of the programs,” she explained, “so I would look to see that being remedied and the bayshore being included. We feel it’s really important to raise the level of appreciation and understanding of the state and federal agencies for the issues that we have, because we’ve been ignored for so long,” she continued. “Honestly, the county and communities have in some ways accepted second-class citizenship, and I think everybody’s kind of on the same page now to be really asking for better treatment.”
As for Fair Share Housing’s Kevin Walsh, more transparency is key to the recovery going forward. “The process so far has been really confusing and hard for people to understand,” he said, noting that it’s been difficult at times to get basic information about how grant programs work and why certain applicants have been denied. “What we’ve found is that the state made so many mistakes the first time around that if it just was a little bit more thoughtful and careful, things would go a lot, lot faster,” he said.