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Demolition Leads ‘Phase Two’ of Storm Recovery [AUDIO]

Demolition is ramping up across the state as crews work to clear the thousands of storm battered homes.

Demolition crews tear down a home in Barnegat Bay
Demolition crews tear down a home in Barnegat Bay (YouTube)

Clearing the unlivable homes is integral to the second phase of the governor’s three-part plan for storm recovery. The Department of Environmental Protection estimates roughly 3,000 properties throughout the state are in need of demolition.

“A key component to that rebuilding effort has to start with the demolition of thousands of homes that have been destroyed by Superstorm Sandy,” says DEP Commissioner Bob Martin.

Martin took a tour of Brick Township’s hardest hit areas along with Mayor Steve Acropolis and Toms River Mayor Tom Kelaher, and Ocean County Freeholder John Bartlett.

Both Brick and Toms River are part of a private property demolition program run by FEMA, which reimburses municipalities 90 percent for the demolition of homes damaged in a natural disaster.

“They have a lot of demolitions, they have a lot of damage, they were right in the fulcrum of the storm,” explains DEP public information officer Larry Ragonese on why the two townships were some of the first to be part of the PPD program.

There are still anywhere between 500 and 600 homes in Brick Township needing demolition, according to Mayor Acropolis. While property owners were able to spend their own money to demolish their home immediately after the storm, the $10,000 to $15,000 price tag made along with unclear and controversial flood maps had many residents hold off.

Acropolis says while nine months after the storm might not be as quick as everyone wants, he admits the government has to follow a significantly more stringent check list of qualifications to demolish a home. He feel ultimately the wait is worth it.

“You’re saving between ten and fifteen thousand dollars if the government does it for you as opposed to doing it on your own. We would rather people use that money towards the rebuilding or elevation of their home.”

Cranes and bulldozers made quick work of gutted and destroyed oceanfront homes at Brick’s Normandy Beach. What DEP officials and mayors alike stressed is the importance of getting homes rebuilt quickly after the are demolished.

Ragonese explains the DEP has cut as much red tape and bureaucracy for many of their common permits, explaining as long as homeowners stay within their foot print and comply with all requirements, they will be able to build.

“Rather than them going to a paper file, go to some clerk somewhere, and sit around for three months. What we basically said is for a certain grouping of routine permits, go do the work and get your job done.”

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