State Leaders Warn Sandy Recovery is Long Way Off

Thousands of municipal officials poured into Atlantic City for the three-day convention billed as Navigating Recovery & Renewal. State representatives speaking at the conference, acknowledged that full recovery is a long way off.  Martin, joined by state Department of Transportation Commissioner James Simpson, state Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Richard Constable, and state Board of Public Utilities Commissioner Mary-Anna Holden outlined major initiatives that they are pushing forward, including buyouts, homeowner assistance programs, shore protection systems, road reconstruction and a new microgrid to power transit if the larger power system fails.

Martin said the state is targeting homes that shouldn’t have been built in certain tidal areas of the state. So far the state has made 150 offers to homeowners in Sayreville and South River. He said the state hopes to close on 500 homes by May 1.

Simpson said the state experienced a “transportation Armageddon after Sandy” because of power failures that left residents stranded. With the installation of a microgrid, Simpson said the transit system could be restored relatively quickly. The U.S. Department of Energy is funding a study on the grid.

For homeowners, Constable outlined the housing assistance programs that the state has managed with federal Sandy aid. So far, about a third of the money dedicated to the programs has been obligated. Constable noted that the state only received the money for the initiatives, funded through Community Development Block Grants, in the spring. Constable said the state has doled out money from some housing programs, with less federal red tape, more quickly than others.

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