Michael O’Boyle: “We couldn’t have done it without RREM pushing us forward and supporting us.”
September 24, 2015
As Superstorm Sandy approached New Jersey’s coastline in October 2012, the three O’Boyle teenage girls decided that they did not want to evacuate their two-story home in Manasquan. They informed their parents that they wanted to put the decision to stay or go to a family vote.
Michael O’Boyle recalled that in the days preceding Sandy he had been watching the sky. He observed that as the storm drew nearer, large numbers of birds were steadily flying inland. “I put my foot down and said we’re leaving. I said even the birds are leaving.” When the O’Boyle family evacuated, they took Cinnamon with them – their Yorkie and Schnauzer mix, which Michael affectionately calls “13 pounds of fury” for his feisty personality.
Sandy sent about four feet of water into their home. Michael marked the water line on the door of his storage shed in the back yard, which abuts a section of the inter-coastal waterway, locally called Stockton Lake. The mark reads, “Water level Oct. 29, 2012.” When Sandy hit and flooded area wastewater treatment plants, the wastewater affected residential neighborhoods such as the O’Boyle’s. Four feet of raw sewage flooded into their home from the inter-coastal waterway.
Through the State’s Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) Program, the O’Boyle’s home was raised eight feet. Pre-Sandy, his home was two stories; now, it’s effectively three stories. The third floor is bedrooms, the second floor is open concept and includes a new kitchen, new appliances, decks in the front and back, and a bright, open and airy living room that is decorated with photos of the family, and the ground floor is a rec room that leads out to the backyard. On one wall of the ground floor rec room hang kitchen cabinets from where the pre-Sandy kitchen used to be. Unfortunately, the family renovated their kitchen not long before Sandy, which destroyed the renovation.
“I have only good things to say about the RREM process,” he said. “We relied on our flood insurance and RREM to rebuild.”
The O’Boyle family moved back into their home in July 2013. Their rehabbed home features an energy efficient heating system, which Michael is especially pleased with. The system heats the house and heats the water for cooking and bathing. Their heating bills have been lower as a result.
Michael found his Housing Advisor and RREM Project Manager helpful. Of his Housing Advisor, he said, “She was our go to person.”
“I appreciate the help we got from RREM,” he added. “We couldn’t have done it without RREM pushing us forward and supporting us. I feel like we’re a success story. We got our lives back.”
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