US Strong Says Sandy Aid Won’t Cover All Recovery Costs

NJ Spotlight News | October 7, 2013 | Politics
The non-profit, non-partisan US Strong has found $8 billion to $13 billion in recovery costs won't be covered by the state and federal government.

By Lauren Wanko
NJ Today

Seaside Park resident Faith Liguori can’t afford to elevate her home. She says her story is no different from her neighbors.

“I’m 63 years old, I’m overwhelmed with the paperwork, I’ve not settled my insurance claim and I wonder to myself what does the 83-year-old person have to do? What are they going through?” Liguori asked.

Business owner Gigi Liaguno-Dorr lost her entire waterfront restaurant to Sandy. She’s renting a property temporarily to keep the business running.

“The bank wants their money for the mortgage. I’m still paying sewer, taxes on a piece of property that I don’t have a business,” Gigi said.

Toms River Resident Tom Fote says so far, 13 homes in his neighborhood have been bulldozed.

“It’s just amazing what’s still going on. My neighborhood, there’s probably still 70 percent of the people not back in their houses,” Fote said.

They’re the new faces of climate change, says US Strong — a non-profit, non-partisan initiative — that today laid out the findings of a new report.

“The scientists today are pointing out that there is clear evidence to show that extreme weather, the magnitude and likelihood is due to climate change,” Curtis Fisher, national campaign director of US Strong, said.

Sandy caused an estimated $37 billion in damages to the Garden State, but Fisher says communities and homeowners will be saddled with billions more in losses that won’t be covered by the Sandy aid package.

“Eight to $13 billion that is not gonna be covered by state and federal government and we know that the best way to try to stop that from ever happening again is to invest in storm preparedness,” Fisher said.

US Strong is calling for a federal fund to protect and strengthen homes and communities against extreme weather events.

“That would be similar to the highway, federal highway trust fund, that would ensure money available for emergency relief as well and potentially more importantly to storm prevention,” Fisher said.

As for where the funding will come from, Sen. Robert Singer said, “Well we have to find a permanent funding source. And that’s part of what we’re talking about here. Working with government to see where we can find a permanent funding source. We’re not saying it has to be from one area, but there has to be a new funding source. We can’t just turn around and say, ‘Well, it’ll gonna come from surplus. It’ll come from some hidden fund.’ There’s gonna have to be some form of taxation on it. We understand that, but let’s work together to find that right area to tax that makes sense for the people of United States.”

On Oct. 25, US Strong is holding a conference to discuss the report with community members and political leaders and the non-profit is reaching out to Congress members to discuss introducing legislation.