Highlands Hero Gets RREM’d

After Closing On A RREM Grant, DCA Says A New Home For Vietnam Vet Is Not In The Cards

By Art Gallagher

Russell Card Jr removes his "family crest" from his family's home in Highlands in preparation for demolition . Photo via facebook

Russell Card Jr removes his “family crest” from his family’s home in Highlands in preparation for demolition . Photo via facebook

A Vietnam Veteran from Highlands and his 65 year-old wife had their expectations of a new home  crushed last week when their RREM approved builder informed them that a stop work order had been placed on their project by the Department of Community Affairs, with no explanation.   The family had prepared their house for demolition, based upon promises from DCA/RREM, and now fear they will be without a home.

Russell Card, a 72 year-old Vietnam Veteran from Highlands closed on his $150,000 RREM grant on July 28.  He put up his $18,000 escrow to cover the difference between the cost of the project and the amount granted.  Card, his wife Maureen and son Russell Jr, 35, prepared their home (which was built in the 1890’s and in the family since 1933) for demolition.   They moved most of their belongings into a POD on their immaculately maintained property and moved themselves into an apartment the size of the living room in the Bay Avenue house they have lived in since 1986.  By mid-September all the utilities were disconnected at the house and it was ready for demolition before their new home would be built.  The funding for the new home was the RREM grant, a gap grant of $30,000 from Gap Funding Initiative and $17,762 that was remaining from a $55,000 grant Mrs. Card had received from her employer, CareOne, after Sandy filled their home with eight feet of water on October 29, 2012.

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Posted: October 1st, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Chris Christie, Christie Administration, DCA, Department of Community Affairs, FEMA, Flooding, Highlands, Housing, Hurricane Sandy, Monmouth County, RREM, Superstorm Sandy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

N.J. Congressman: Sandy funds still needed for infrastructure, businesses

N.J. Congressman: Sandy funds still needed for infrastructure, businesses (via NJ.com)

FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP – While public officials welcomed the news that the latest round of Hurricane Sandy recovery money will cover the New Jersey’s unmet need for housing funds, one congressman says that the funding does not go far enough. U.S. Rep…

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Posted: May 30th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Chris Smith, Hurricane Sandy, RREM, Superstorm Sandy | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

NJ has distributed less than 25 percent of Sandy aid

NJ has distributed less than 25 percent of Sandy aid (via NJ.com)

About a year after the federal government allocated $1.8 billion to New Jersey to rebuild after Hurricane Sandy, the state has distributed less than a quarter of the disaster relief aid, according to a new report. State officials, however, claim they…

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Posted: May 4th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Christie Administration, RREM, Superstorm Sandy | Tags: , , | Comments Off

The Politics Of Disaster Relief

By Art Gallagher, artvg@aol.com

When disaster hits, natural or man made, Americans put aside their differences and come together to handle the emergency.

We saw it with 9-11. Most recently in New Jersey we saw it with Superstorm Sandy.

Once the emergency is over and the federal money is flowing, the politics…partisanship and patronage starts.  We saw it with 9-11. We’re living it with Sandy.

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Posted: April 13th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: 2014 Congressional Races, 2014 Elections, 2014 U.S. Senate race, 2016 Presidential Politics, 2017 NJ Gubernatorial Politics, Bob Menendez, Chris Christie, Chris Smith, Christie Administration, Congress, Cory Booker, Democrats, Department of Community Affairs, Department of Homland Security, Frank Pallone, George W Bush, Housing, Hurricane Sandy, Jennifer Beck, Jersey Shore, NJ Democrats, NJ State Legislature, RREM, Superstorm Sandy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Monmouth And Ocean Senators Ask Congressional Delegation For Sandy Help

Six state Senators representing Monmouth and Oceans Counties have written to New Jersey’s U.S. Senators and Members of Congress asking for help in correcting inequities and inefficiencies in the federal government’s response to Superstorm Sanday.

In a letter dated March 31, Senators Jennifer Beck and Joe Kyrillos of Monmouth County, Robert Singer, Christopher Connors and James Holzapfel of Ocean County and Sam Thompson of Middlesex raised six issues concerning Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), the Small Business Administration (SBA), FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program and the Rehabilitation, Reconstruction, Elevation and Mitigation(RREM) grant program.

With all those agencies and initials, how could anything be going wrong?

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Posted: April 3rd, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: FEMA, RREM, Superstorm Sandy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Christie: Federal Law Keeping RREM Applicants in Limbo

Pallone says legislation is not necessary, regulators can change the rules

MMM photo/Art Gallagher

Governor Chris Christie listens to a resident’s question in Belmar. March 25, 2014 MMM photo/Art Gallagher. Click for larger view.

Governor Chris Christie told the 650 people in attendance at his Town Hall Meeting in Belmar yesterday that he went to Washington last week to ask HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan to waive the rule that is keeping Sandy victims from rebuilding their homes while they are waiting to find out if they will be approved for Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) grants of up to $150,000.

The RREM program will not reimburse homeowners for work done on their homes prior to their acceptance into the program.  Over 3000 people are on the RREM waiting list for the second round of HUD funding which is expected to be awarded late this spring. They are in limbo, living in temporary housing, paying rent and mortgages, while their ruined homes are dormant.

Christie said that Donovan told him he could not waive the rule because a specific federal law prohibits grants being used to pay for work performed prior to the federal approval being secured.

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Posted: March 26th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Belmar, Chris Christie, Frank Pallone, Keansburg, RREM, Stephen Sweeney | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Sweeney and Pallone confirm that Feds are the problem with Sandy relief

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Keansburg Deputy Mayor Jimmy Cocuzza, Senate President Steve Sweeney and Congressman Frank Pallone at Sweeney’s Town Hall Meeting in Keansburg, March 20, 2014

Senate President Steve Sweeney and Congressman Frank Pallone tried to feign non-partisanship yesterday at Sweeney’s Town Hall Meeting in Keansburg, the most recent leg on Sweeney’s Sandy Bill of Rights tour. “This is not about politics, or party,” Sweeney said as Pallone nodded “it’s about taking care of the people who need help and getting them the information they need.”

Sweeney’s bill seems to make perfect sense.  It requires plain language explanations of disaster assistance programs and gives applicants the right to know where they are in the process, where they are on waiting lists, and how to appeal.  The bill was cleared with amendments by the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee, 4-0 with one abstention, Sen. Jennifer Beck, on Monday.

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Posted: March 21st, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: FEMA, Frank Pallone, Keansburg, RREM, Stephen Sweeney, Superstorm Sandy | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Hurricane Sandy victims make do in trailers as they wait to rebuild

Hurricane Sandy victims make do in trailers as they wait to rebuild (via NJ.com)

Tina Napalo lived in a bungalow-style house on Fourth Street in Union Beach for more than 20 years. “I didn’t have everything,” said the 40-year-old mother of four, but, “it took me a long time to get what I had.” Then Hurricane Sandy hit.…

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Posted: March 16th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Chris Christie, Christie Administration, Highlands, Hurricane Sandy, Keansburg, Middletown, Monmouth County, Obama Administration, RREM, Sea Bright, Superstorm Sandy, Union Beach | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

A New Christie For A New Normal

IMG_6933If Governor Chris Christie’s presidential prospects have been damaged by the Bridgegate scandal and associated investigations, you wouldn’t know it by the amount of television cameras at the Town Hall Meeting in Port Monmouth this morning.  Middletown officials estimate the crowd was about 500 people. There was easily 50 members of the media including reporters, photographers and videographers.

There was no swagger from the Governor today.  No fist pumps, no snazzy introductory video, no in your face insults to hostile questioners.  Christie dodged the only hostile question he heard.  The Youtube moment came not from an idiot or thin skinned reporter, but from a three year old girl who said her house is still broken.

Bridgegate, the controversy over the September lane closures at the George Washington Bridge that has spurred investigations by the U.S. Attorney and a Special Legislative Committee never came up.  The people who came to today’s meeting would gladly trade places with the Bergen County residents who were inconvenienced by traffic jams for four days.  They been without their homes for 16 months.

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Posted: February 20th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: 2016 Presidential Politics, Chris Christie, RREM, Superstorm Sandy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Welcome back to Monmouth County, Governor We’ve been waiting

“My message to the federal government, get the resources where they are needed as fast as possible, as hard as possible and for the duration. Because the recovery process, obviously in a place like New Jersey is going to take a significant amount of time….

I told the mayors and the governors, if they are getting no for an answer somewhere in the federal government, they can call me personally at the White House.”  ~ President Barack Obama, October 30, 2012

“On October 29 last year the job changed for me. It’s no longer a job, it’s a mission.

You see a mission is something that is different from a job. A mission is sacred.  It’s a sacred trust that was thrust on me, and you, on October 29 of last year.

And that mission is to make sure that everyone, everyone in New Jersey that was affected by Sandy to return to normalcy in their lives.

I will not let anyone, anything, any governmental entity, or any force get in between me and the completion of my mission.”  ~ Governor Chris Christie, November 5, 2013

Welcome back to Monmouth County, Governor Christie.  We’ve been waiting for you.

Posted: February 20th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Barack Obama, Chris Christie, RREM, Superstorm Sandy | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments »