Sandy victims still trying to get home
Since Superstorm Sandy two years ago, the mission of getting people back into their homes has presented a mixed bag of results. For every success story, there's a tale of frustration.
In Toms River, for example, one couple received a certificate of occupancy more than a month ago for their repaired and elevated home. Another couple, meanwhile, is still waiting for their "substantially damaged" home to be demolished in order to begin the rebuilding process.
"I'd say the storm itself, although it was traumatic, was a lot easier than these last two years," said Kimberly Young of Toms River, who's been living with her partner, John Thompson, in the top floor of their gutted home after they could no longer afford a rental property. "The bureaucratic process has just been hell."
The couple has managed to get more than $150,000 from the state and federal government, but the hard part is stretching that money into a new place to call home.
"Everything seems to be really overpriced," Thompson said.
Fellow resident Doug Quinn said he's been "stonewalled" by other aid outlets, and the state's Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) Program has become his only avenue for a new start. He was recently taken off the program's waiting list.
"The process is very slow, very frustrating and very sloppy," Quinn said.
He and his daughter have been living in the same rental property for nearly two years.
Gov. Chris Christie announced Thursday that more than $1 billion in federal housing recovery funds have been committed to homeowners impacted by Sandy.
Kathleen and Chris Lynam of Toms River were among the families to benefit quickly from the aid. Kathleen said she and her husband "are so grateful for the blessing," but admitted the process to get there was a challenge.