In an interview with NJ.com Sea Bright Mayor Dina Long expressed her frustration with a lack of specifics in Governor Christie’s State of the State Address, even though she said she is meeting with state officials and FEMA today.
“We’re glad we’re on the governor’s radar, but the story of the owner of Sea Bright Pizza, Cono Trezza, is emblematic of my entire community,” Long said, citing one of many Sea Bright establishments yet to be back in business. “We want to do the right thing in terms of rebuilding by doing it smarter and by mitigating flood risk. Unfortunately, because of a lack of specificity coming from the state of New Jersey, and a lack of support and money from Washington, D.C., people who want to do the right thing are in limbo. I’m glad that we’re Jersey strong, because we’re going to have to be strong enough to pull ourselves out of this. We’re a 1,500-person town with a $5 million budget that needs help, and we’re not getting help.”
“I would not respond well to somebody who criticized this Republican governor, because [Christie] has been a determined, inspirational leader,” Long said. “But in order for us to rebuild smart from Sandy, we need more than just moral support. We need to know whether or not we’re going to get financial assistance or not. And if the answer is not, that’s fine – we’ll figure it out ourselves.”
Long’s frustration is understandable. Frustration among municipal officials and residents alike is likely to rise in the coming weeks and months as the difficult realities of rebuiding are confronted. Yet, for a mayor to expect the Governor to recite what specific actions will be taken in any given town during a State of the State Address is unrealistic, especially when that Governor highlighted your town during the address and you’ve got a meeting to handle specifics scheduled for the next day.
However, Long’s next line is alarming and should have been the lead to the story:
“Every day that goes by, the resolve of our business owners goes away,” Long added. “I’ve got people sleeping in cars – I could care less about the boardwalk.” (emphasis added)
Why are people sleeping in cars?
A friend of mine whose home in Highlands was flooded by Sandy has been staying with friends, at no cost to the taxpayers, for the last two months during her home clean up and rebuilding. That arrangement stopped working last weekend. My friend visited the FEMA office in Leonardo and was put up in a hotel in a matter of hours. That residents of Sea Bright are sleeping in cars doesn’t make sense. Maybe they are choosing to sleep in their cars. Maybe someone is dropping the ball. Maybe there is red tape. Red tape and dropping the ball is unacceptable.
My friend says that FEMA temporary housing is expiring on the 12th. That could lead to a lot more people sleeping in cars. That’s not acceptable either.
Where is all the money that was raised by concerts being spent? How is the millions that Christie raised privately being spent? Evidently its not being spent on people in Sea Bright and elsewhere who have been displaced and are sleeping in cars.
We can’t have people who are displaced by a natural disaster sleeping in cars because of red tape. Not in Monmouth County. Not in New Jersey. Not in the United States of America.
We’re better than that.
UPDATE: Displaced residents are sleeping in cars because they are being evicted from their hotels on weekends to accommodate wedding guests. Read about it here.