Residents Remain Displaced Nearly a Year After Hurricane Sandy

Almost a full year after Hurricane Sandy hit, some residents are still unable to move back into their homes.

By Senior Correspondent Desirée Taylor
NJ Today

Krista Sperber longs for the day she and her family can return to her Sandy damaged home in Belmar.

“I don’t know. It just all looks like garbage because it is,” she said.

But with a crumbling foundation and what Sperber calls a grossly insufficient amount of financial help from her insurance company, she knows it won’t be any time soon.

“We have moved into our third rental since the storm,” she said. “A great deal of our day chasing our old lives, going to collect mail, remembering where to even ship a package is chaotic. But just trying to pull together your daily lives back into a routine with children is beyond chaotic.”

Sperber’s situation isn’t unique. Belmar’s mayor estimates there are still about two dozen families that have not been able to return to their homes.

“I think there are still hundreds if not thousands of families that are sleeping on the couches of loved ones and friends in Monmouth, Ocean counties up and down the shore. I can tell you in Belmar we’re not going to rest until those families are back in their homes where they belong,” said Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty.

FEMA doesn’t keep track of the total number of displaced residents, but it does point out that more than 44,000 New Jersey households are still seeking rental assistance. About half are Ocean County residents. These numbers don’t surprise Mayor Doherty. He saw firsthand the widespread flooding Sandy caused in Belmar and in communities up and down the shore.

“The Jersey Shore’s not gonna look like it did before Sandy for many years. It will come back. One of frustrating parts is that the residents seem to be coming back slower than the businesses and as you heard a lot of that’s attributable to the insurance companies,” Doherty said.

“The amount of paperwork that we have to fill out on a monthly basis for FEMA relocation or for insurance or scheduling appointments, it’s exhausting. It’s a full-time extra job on top of what you already do,” Sperber said.

Sperber’s block was completely under water. And even though most of her neighbors, including those who had no flood insurance, are back. Her dilemma continues.

“Most of them did not even have the flood insurance so they were able to get assistance from other areas that we would not qualify for because we were ensured,” Sperber said. “We are definitely determined to fix it. We’re just, finding where the money is gonna come from is an issue.”

For others in limbo like her, the road home could take months or longer.