Jeanne DeMarsico: “I was very fortunate and blessed.”
Visit: October 29, 2015
In 2001, Jeanne DeMarsico and her husband moved into a picturesque Jersey Shore cottage surrounded on three sides by sweeping views of the bay in Tuckerton. During the next few years, the DeMarsicos renovated their little oasis. Mr. DeMarsico had a creative eye to make their home unique and special to them. When her husband passed away in 2007, Jeanne treasured the home they had designed together.
Superstorm Sandy’s flood waters spared virtually nothing in their Tuckerton cottage. Four feet of water and debris sat in the house, soaking all of Jeanne’s belongings, destroying the first floor, and cracking the foundation. After stacking her belongings on the curb to be hauled away, Jeanne started the rebuilding process. She knew she couldn’t do it alone.
Never missing a town meeting or information session, Jeanne educated herself about the recovery process. After registering with FEMA and realizing her flood insurance payout would not cover all her rebuilding costs, she excitedly applied for the State’s Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation, and Mitigation (RREM) Program, which is administered by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA). Soon after, she enlisted the help of A Future With Hope, a non-profit organization that provided her with a disaster case manager to navigate all aspects of recovery and rebuilding. By October 2014, Jeanne had signed her RREM grant award.
“The system was so refined, and communication from my RREM Housing Advisor was excellent,” Jeanne said of her application process.
Ready to move along to the construction phase, Jeanne counted on the expertise of A Future With Hope’s Construction Director, Lou Strugala, to lead her project. Her home was the first modular home reconstruction completed solely by A Future With Hope’s construction team. Volunteers from World Renew took care of much of the labor free of charge. Jeanne estimates that she saved substantial dollars by utilizing the resources of the non-profit community.
“I feel extremely fortunate to have a relationship with these groups to help maximize the resources from the government,” she said.
In September 2015, Jeanne moved into a beautiful new modular home, elevated 9 feet to ensure resiliency in future storms. She credits her success story to the incredible collaboration between her RREM Housing Advisor and Project Manager, A Future With Hope, and volunteers.
“Not one agency can do it alone. We did everything together – the paperwork and planning. That’s what it takes,” she said.
On the Sandy Three Year Anniversary, DCA Deputy Commissioner David Reiner joined Jeanne, A Future With Hope, and dozens of volunteers for an official “Welcome Home” and house blessing celebration.
Jeanne, thanking everyone for their contribution to her recovery, sums it up best: “I was very fortunate and blessed.”
For more stories like this one, please visit Spotlight on Recovery.