The New York Times published a lengthy report on the more than 30,000 residents who remain displaced from Hurricane Sandy — from Long Beach to Toms River, New Jersey — and are mired still in mind-boggling bureaucratic red tape and face financial ruin.
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The story highlights a few Long Beach residents, Kathryn Fitzgerald and her neighbors, Anne Walsh and Penny Ryan, on Delaware Avenue. Fitzgerald, whose two-story home was deemed “substantially damaged,” was offered just $71,000 on her federally subsidized flood insurance policy, and she opted to demolish her home, the property of which remains an empty lot. Fitzgerald said:
“This has been a horrendously hard year for me. If I don’t think of this in a way that is going to relieve the anger and upset, then I’ll just go back to crying every day.”
Walsh and Ryan, whose storm-damaged two-story home escaped the “substantially damaged” designation, were thereby not required to elevate their home above ground level but spent $200,000 to restore it and recouped an amount considerably less from flood insurance, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and New York Rising Program, and now they face considerable debt.
The Times also reports that in the areas in and around New York City, nearly half of residents who received assistance from the FEMA received less than $5,000, with most of those fund intended to cover housing and other emergency costs in the days and weeks after the hurricane struck. Moreover, government officials say the process of obtaining full compensation for losses is deliberately byzantine, designed to involve several steps and to frustrate efforts to game the system and to minimize fraud.
The story also reports that state officials said last week that they had asked the Department of Housing and Urban Development to allow them to send more than $650 million directly to more than 6,600 homeowners before the end of the year.
Read the full story here.