Thousands in NJ still rebuilding from Sandy damage

 Charles Richman, acting commissioner of New Jersey's Department of Community Affairs, attributed some of the delays in getting grant money to residents to the two-year process in distributing federal Sandy aid to the state. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Charles Richman, acting commissioner of New Jersey's Department of Community Affairs, attributed some of the delays in getting grant money to residents to the two-year process in distributing federal Sandy aid to the state. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

More than two-and-a-half years after Superstorm Sandy ravaged the Jersey Shore, nearly 7,000 homeowners are still rebuilding.

Eligible homeowners on the waiting list for the Rehabilitation, Reconstruction, Elevation, and Mitigation grants will be approved, said Charles Richman, acting commissioner of the state Department of Community Affairs.

During a legislative hearing Tuesday, Sen. Jennifer Beck, R-Monmouth, said she’s concerned that some of those displaced families have to wait six weeks for utilities to be disconnected and another six weeks to be reconnected.

“When people talk about the program moving slowly, this three-month window to me seems … hey, five business days OK,” she said. “But three months, that’s crazy.”

Richman assured lawmakers the state is pushing for quicker action.

“We recognize it as a problem, and we need to address it, and it’s high on our list for forthcoming activities,” he said.

Richman attributed some of the delays in getting grant money to residents to the two-year process in distributing federal Sandy aid to the state.

“The last $800 million, which included $225 million for homeowners, we did not receive that allocation of funds until April 20 of this year,” he said. “So a thousand homeowners have been forced to wait until now to receive the first dollar.”

Residents have also been frustrated by delays in getting permits needed to rebuild. The state has a program to help towns hire additional staff to help with the permitting process, Richman said.

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