Today, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez and Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) joined with local officials at the Bayshore Regional Sewerage Authority (BRSA) in Union Beach and reviewed important federal updates to the Sandy recovery process. Pallone and Menendez discussed a new revision to CDBG grant eligibility, and were joined by Michael Finnegan, a Port Monmouth resident who spent out of pocket to rebuild his home and before this revision was not eligible to be reimbursed. They also discussed FEMA funding for BRSA that will help repair damage at the facility, and announced their initiative in Congress to amend current law to allow condo associations and co-ops to apply for disaster assistance.
"As we once again enter hurricane season, it is critical that we take a look at what we've learned from Sandy and review these positive developments like funding to help repair the Bayshore Regional Sewerage Authority, but also that we continue to fight for a full recovery that mitigates future damage and streamlines processes so that we are ready for the next time a storm hits," said Pallone. "I'm pleased I have been able to help when roadblocks have presented themselves in the rebuilding process, and I encourage New Jerseyans to continue to reach out to me and my staff with their experiences."
"Standing here today in Union Beach we are reminded of the magnitude of Sandy's destruction and also of the resiliency of this community, working hand over hand toward full recovery. So much has been done but there is still work ahead which is why Congressman Pallone and I fought so hard for the Sandy federal relief package for New Jersey and why I'm so pleased that HUD has now agreed to allow homeowners who could not wait to begin critical repairs to apply for federal help to cover those costs. Recovery isn't one size fits all and I'll keep working to ensure New Jersey comes back stronger than ever."
Michael Finnegan of Port Monmouth spoke about his prior frustrations in gaining eligibility for reimbursement for work he completed to raise his home. This week, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) responded to concerns from Pallone and Menendez by reversing its policy blocking many homeowners, like Mr. Finnegan, in New Jersey from getting reimbursed for repairs already completed on their home. Under the new policy, Finnegan will have a path to reimbursement for the money he has spent out of pocket to repair his home.
Menendez and Pallone discussed a recent bill in Congress to allow condo associations and co-ops to apply for disaster assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The Disaster Assistance Equity Act amends FEMA's current policy in which co-ops and condo associations are considered business entities and thus not eligible for important funding under the Individuals and Households Program (IHP).
At the BRSA, Menendez and Pallone announced that to date, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has obligated $6.3 million to repair damage done to the facility and that an additional $12 million is currently waiting for FEMA review. The facility suffered three feet of flooding and $20 million worth of damage, and FEMA will cover 90% of that damage.
Menendez and Pallone were also joined by local elected officials and Robert Fischer, Executive Director, Bayshore Regional Sewerage Authority (BRSA).