Beach Replenishment Projected Completed In Belmar

Resident Engineer Paul Jalowski with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District, discusses how the elevation of a wide beach berm reduces coastal risks to communities behind them at the site of the Belmar to Manasquan beach renourishment project with U.S. Representative Chris Smith and local officials in Manasquan, N.J. Nov 7, 2013

Resident Engineer Paul Jalowski with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District, discusses how the elevation of a wide beach berm reduces coastal risks to communities behind them at the site of the Belmar to Manasquan beach renourishment project with U.S. Representative Chris Smith and local officials in Manasquan, N.J. Nov 7, 2013

Congressman Chris Smith announced this afternoon that the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers has completed a $25 million Southern Monmouth County beach replenishment project in Belmar.  The five mile stretch of beach including Manasquan, Spring Lake, Sea Girt and Belmar was severely eroded by Superstorm Sandy.  The project, which started in November 7, 2013 nourished the beaches to better conditions than existed pre-Sandy.

“I stood on what was left of the beaches in the days after Superstorm Sandy and the immense scope of the damage was a hard to take in,” said Smith, who worked to obtain Sandy recovery funding and hosted a groundbreaking in Manasquan Nov. 7. “The beaches and dunes which offered protection to the shore communities were washed away—leaving the towns vulnerable to future storms. Thankfully, the Army Corps of Engineers has now rebuilt the beaches in Belmar, Sea Girt, Spring Lake and Manasquan to continue the protections they provide for homes and lives.”

The project is funded 100 percent by the federal government through the Army Corps’ Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies (FCCE) account. The project pumped an estimated 1.3 million cubic yards of sand onto the shoreline.

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Posted: April 23rd, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Army Corp of Engineers, Chris Smith, Monmouth County, Superstorm Sandy | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

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: , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

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: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Meanwhile at the Monmouth Democratic Convention….

….there were no surprises out of the IBEW Local 400 Union Hall in Wall this morning.

Senator Cory Booker was endorsed for the nomination to seek his first full term in the U.S. Senate.

Congressman Frank Pallone was nominated for his 14th term in the House of Representatives.

In the 4th congressional district, criminal defense attorney Ruben Scolavino has agreed to take another one for the Democratic team.  Scolavino lost to Sheriff Shaun Golden, 64%-36% last year.  He will likely face a worse fate against Congressman Chris Smith who running for his 18th term.  Scolavino is probably angling for a Judgeship.

For Monmouth County Freeholder, Larry Luttrell, a Holmdel attorney who came in last against Freeholders Tom Arnone and Serena DiMaso in 2013, hopes to do better this year against Freeholder Director Lillian Burry and Deputy Director Gary Rich who were renominated by the Monmouth GOP this morning.  Joining Luttrell on the County Democratic ticket for freeholder is Joe Grillo of Asbury Park.  Grillo is making his first run at elected office.  He is the municipal chairman of the Asbury Park Democrats, the former executive director of the Monmouth Dems, and works for his family’s tile business.

CD-4 Candidate Ruben Scolavino, Larry Luttrell, Senator Cory Booker, Joe Grillo, Congressman Frank Pallone, NJ Democratic Chairman John Currie and Monmouth Democratic Chairman Vin Gopal.

CD-4 Candidate Ruben Scolavino, Larry Luttrell, Senator Cory Booker, Joe Grillo, Congressman Frank Pallone, NJ Democratic Chairman John Currie and Monmouth Democratic Chairman Vin Gopal. Photo via Pallone’s facebook page.

 

Posted: March 22nd, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: 2014 Congressional Races, 2014 Elections, 2014 U.S. Senate race, Monmouth County, Monmouth Democrats | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

House Passes ‘Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act’

Bill would reform National Flood Insurance Program, aims to protect homeowners from steep insurance hikes

Congressman Chris Smith and Monmouth County Shaun Golden prepare to survey Hurricane Sandy damage

Congressman Chris Smith and Monmouth County Shaun Golden prepare to survey Hurricane Sandy damage

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House of Representatives voted last night to provide relief to hundreds of thousands of homeowners facing huge flood insurance premium rate increases, including many still recovering from the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy. Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04), who represents severely damaged areas in southern Monmouth and northern Ocean Counties, praised the vote.

“The bill makes targeted and necessary reforms and will prevent massive premium increases from hitting homeowners who simply cannot afford them—and cannot find a buyer to take them on, leaving them stranded and without a solution,” Smith said.  “Many cannot afford the recommended mitigation measures that may or may not reduce their premiums, creating a further environment of uncertainty. Accordingly, the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act slows the rate of increase that was included in the 2012 Biggert-Waters reform bill, allowing homeowners to remain in their homes and plan accordingly to continue flood insurance policies.”

The bill passed in a 309-91 vote. If enacted the bill will provide relief and stability to these homeowners and their communities while bringing reform to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).  It also provides a mechanism for enhanced community participation in the flood mapping process and increases transparency by making information publicly available to impacted parties.

The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act (HR 3370), co-sponsored by Smith, remedies many of the unintended consequences of the so-called Biggert-Waters Act of 2012. It repeals certain rate increases on Pre-Flood Insurance Rate Map (Pre-FIRM) properties and restores Grandfathered Rates for Post-FIRM properties that were built to code at the time of construction. It prevents a property sale from triggering rate increases and refunds those who have already faced one.

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Posted: March 5th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Chris Smith, FEMA, Flood Maps, Flooding, National Flood Insurance Plan, Press Release | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Joint Super Bowl Operation Targeting Commercial Child Sex Trafficking Rescue 25 Minors, Apprehends 45 Suspects

seated_on_setWASHINGTON, D.C. – Members of U.S. and New Jersey law enforcement agencies who took part in a Joint Super Bowl Operation deserve tremendous credit for rescuing 25 children ages 13-17 from lives of misery and sexual abuse, and for arresting 45 suspects who allegedly exploited the children for commercial sex, said Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04), Chairman of the House congressional panel that oversees global human rights, and author of the landmark law, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (Public Law 106-386).

 

According to the FBI, which announced the arrests yesterday, some suspects claimed to have traveled to New Jersey from other states specifically for the purpose of prostituting women and children at the Super Bowl. High-profile special events, which draw large crowds, have become lucrative opportunities for child prostitution criminal enterprises, the FBI said.

This unprecedented effort by federal agencies in collaboration with local law enforcement from New Jersey aggressively focused on combating commercial child sex trafficking,” said Smith. “The joint efforts and the extraordinary leadership shown by Governor Christie and the New Jersey Human Trafficking Task force is to be applauded for working effectively to help save lives. 

“Young victims now have a chance for a new start thanks to these arrests and rescuesThose who took advantage of young runaways and women forced or mislead into a life of sex trafficking and abuse must now face justiceHopefully this effective effort will become a prototype and have a chilling effect on perpetrators across the nation and around the globe.”

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Posted: February 6th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Chris Smith, Human Trafficking, Press Release, Super Bowl | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

FEMA Agrees to Levee Study that Could Ease Homeowners’ Flood Insurance Premiums

FREEHOLD, N.J. – Federal officials are taking steps which may help residents of the hard-hit neighborhood of North Middletown as they face potential flood insurance increases as a result of new flood maps expected to be unveiled this week.

 

U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04) said that as a result of congressional inquiry and meetings with local officials from Middletown, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other state and federal agencies, FEMA has agreed to implement a comprehensive study and evaluation of the East Keansburg Levee system which FEMA had previously “de-certified” for flood protection, resulting in proposed steep flood insurance hikes for homeowners.  If the study recognizes the levee system as flood protection that may prevent devastating flooding as it did during Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Irene, it could lead to reduced risk assessment and lower insurance costs.

“Thousands of residents of North Middletown are looking at the very real possibility of their flood insurance premiums skyrocketing because FEMA no longer views some levee systems as adequate flood protection,” said Smith. “But as residents there know, for more than 40 years this neighborhood has been well served by a flood management system of levees, dunes, and pumps. This unique system has been effective since its installation in the 1970s. Even during Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy, when much of the coast was badly flooded, the roughly 1,400 homes in North Middletown remained protected. To omit an evaluation of this levy system and a substantive analysis of any form of protection it might offer would be unfair to the residents.”

 

Smith sent a letter to FEMA Region II chief Jerome Hatfield on November 8 requesting the agency do a study, to which Hatfield replied that FEMA did not at the time have adequate funding.

 

“We are thankful that FEMA has now identified funding to undertake this important study, particularly after correspondence in which Administrator Hatfield stated that FEMA was looking to explore this option and work together with local stakeholders,” said Smith.  “We hope this new study will enable FEMA to determine the effectiveness of the East Keansburg Levee system and provide them with the most comprehensive and up-to-date information as they conclude analysis of the region’s flood maps.”

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Posted: January 27th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Chris Smith, FEMA, Flood Maps, Flooding, Press Release, Superstorm Sandy | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Congressman Chris Smith To Hold Hearing on Human Trafficking and The Super Bowl This Afternoon

New Jersey, New York and federal officials, along with their private sector partners in the transportation and hospitality industries have been working to thwart human trafficking associated with the Super Bowl since the day it was announced the big game would be played in New Jersey this year.

Congressman Chris Smith, Chairman of the House committee that oversees global human rights, will hold a hearing this afternoon at 2PM to examine the measures that are being deployed this week before the game.

“As sports fans prepare for February’s Super Bowl, the prospect of human trafficking threatens to darken the festivities,” said Smith, author of the landmark Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. “Fortunately, we have learned from past sporting events and have new best practices, such as training for the transportation and hospitality industries to help identify and rescue victims being trafficked in plain sight. This hearing will examine how we can transform this Super Bowl  —and other major sporting event worldwide— from potential trafficking-fests to trafficking-free zones.”

Representatives from the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, AMTRAK, the airline industry and End Child Prostitution and Trafficking-USA are scheduled to testify.

The hearing will be live-streamed here.

Live streaming video by Ustream

Posted: January 27th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Chris Smith | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

Smith Announces $3.8 Million in Sandy Recovery Reimbursements

 

Congressman Chris Smith and Monmouth County Shaun Golden prepared to survey Hurricane Sandy damage

Congressman Chris Smith and Monmouth County Shaun Golden prepared to survey Hurricane Sandy damage. file photo

Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ4) announced that FEMA will be reimbursing the Borough of Belmar and the South Monmouth Regional Sewerage Authority (SMRSA) 90%, instead of the standard 75%, of the cost of repairs to infrastructure damaged by Superstorm Sandy.  Belmar is slated to receive $1.74 million for repairs to marina buildings, bridges, docks and other facilities, in addition to the $9 million already granted for their boardwalk replacement.  SMRSA will receive $2.083 million to relocate and replace a pump station.

“As someone who has been going to Belmar since I was a young boy, I can easily envision how these improvements will change the Belmar waterfront which was nearly unrecognizable to me when I first saw it days after Superstorm Sandy hit,” said Smith.  “Boardwalks and marina facilities are the critical for many Jersey Shore towns and rebuilding them and restoring them is essential to recovery.”

The Belmar grant will help fund nine construction sites, four of which are completed and the others underway.

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Posted: November 28th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Belmar, Chris Smith, FEMA, Superstorm Sandy | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Smith’s Delegation Meets With Typhoon Victims, Rescues Helicopter Crash Survivors

Philippines Country Representative Joe Curry walks with Congressmen Al Green, Trent Franks, and Chris Smith through areas affected by Typhoon Haiyan during a congressional visit to Leyte, Philippines. Photo Credit: Kent Truog

Philippines Country Representative Joe Curry walks with Congressmen Al Green, Trent Franks, and Chris Smith through areas affected by Typhoon Haiyan during a congressional visit to Leyte, Philippines. Photo Credit: Kent Truog

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04) and his bipartisan congressional delegation (CODEL) which traveled to the region devastated by Super Typhoon Haiyan, locally called Typhoon Yolanda, meeting with victims of the typhoon, emergency workers and U.S. and Filipino government officials, are set to depart the Philippines today.

 

It’s mind numbing and heart numbing,” Smith said. “I’ve been to many places around the world when there have been catastrophic typhoons hurricanes, earthquakes and even more. It is powerful to witness the Filipino people’s resiliency in the face of devastation, in the face the loss of life.”

 

Smith, who is joined on the trip by Reps. Al Green (D-TX-09), and Trent Franks (R-AZ-08), saw for himself the typhoon’s devastation in Tacloban City and surrounding areas in Leyte.

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Posted: November 26th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Chris Smith, Press Release, Typhoon Haiyan | Tags: , , , | No Comments »