Boardwalk reopens as some Belmar residents still wait for repairs

As Gov. Chris Christie attended ceremonies marking the opening of the rebuilt boardwalk in Belmar, many residents of nearby homes are still trying to recover from the Sandy storm damage.

 Vasilia Loucopoulos, who lives just a few blocks from the beach, said Sandy flooded her basement and ruined her furnace and hot-water heater.

She said it doesn’t upset her that the focus is on boardwalk reopenings while homeowners are still trying to rebuild.

“We’re just very pleased to see there’s some recovery in the town because that helps us to see some hope and some life back into the town,” she said Wednesday.

Some residents, however, are frustrated by the length of time it’s taking to get insurance money and grants to restore their homes.

Belmar resident Andy Meuerle said floodwaters from Sandy surrounded his home and he lost his car and a lot of his belongings.

“Actually I was very lucky. I had flood insurance. FEMA was pretty good to me as well,” he said. “It’s just something you have to deal with.”

While she is encouraged to see the restoration of the boardwalk, the principal at St. Rose High School in Belmar said she remains concerned about the $6 million of damage the storm surge caused to the school complex.

“It is a delicate balance to try and make sure that families and homes are being rebuilt,” said Sister Cathy Nace. “Certainly the school is waiting on FEMA assistance as well, but we know that the boardwalk is essential to the community and its overall health in the long term.”

Christie said he sympathizes with the people who are still not back in their homes, and the state will do what it can to help them.

“While those folks are rightfully distraught over their circumstance, the fact is that we need to make sure that we rebuild the tourism industry in this state at the Jersey Shore now,” the governor said.

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