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Spotlight on Recovery

New Jersey Five Years Post-Sandy, Stronger Than The Storm

This digital book is dedicated to the thousands of New Jerseyans impacted by Superstorm Sandy and the emergency responders who risked their lives in dark, cold and flooded communities to protect the lives of those imperiled by the storm. It is with them in mind that we rebuild a stronger, more flood-resilient New Jersey. We invite you to take a look.

Three Years After Sandy Digital Book

This digital book provides a retrospective of where we’ve come since 2012, where we are going, and a stark look back at the imagery of those days after the storm three years ago. We invite you to take a look.

governors sandy book cover

DCA congratulates Sandy-impacted NJ families participating in our recovery programs for taking pride in their homes and staying in their communities.

These families were literally driven from their homes by the worst natural disaster in our state’s history. Instead of walking away from their homes and their neighborhoods, they chose to stay. They navigated federal regulations. They rebuilt and elevated their homes. They are justified in taking pride in their new homes. DCA congratulates them for their extraordinary efforts to overcome Sandy.

DCA casts a spotlight on those who have recovered from the storm.


Buckleys from Toms River, Ocean County:

“We wouldn’t have been able to raise our house in the time that we did without the RREM Program. It wasn’t that hard to do. We can only say good things about that program.”








Mr. Fote from Toms River, Ocean County:

“We would never have taken on the expense of elevating the house without the RREM grant program. We needed to go up high enough to put in an elevator. I’m feeling so much more secure than before.”







Dreams Come True for Family Devastated by Superstorm Sandy.

Angela Mills: “We will never take the word ‘home’ for granted.”
Toms River, NJ

On October 29, 2012, rain pounded on the apartment in Toms River where Angela Mills and her 21-year-old son Matthew lived; winds whipped and howled. But at some point, Superstorm Sandy seemed to die down, and Angela and her son still had electricity.

They thought the worst was behind them, that they’d been lucky.

“Suddenly we saw water seeping into the house from the front and back doors,” Angela recalls.

By the time Angela and Matthew raced up the stairs, the water was rising to her hips.

At dawn, they woke to a horrid stench. They knew that something was “very wrong,” as Angela put it. They would later discover that their home had been flooded with sewage.

To read the full story  please click here


Trial by Flooding: First Time Homeowner in Union Beach Hit Hard by Sandy, Bounces Back with Help of RREM Program

David J. AndriolaDavid J. Andriola: “The RREM Program was excellent. I am so grateful for everything.”

Visit: June 14, 2016
Union Beach, NJ

Before David J. Andriola bought his house in Union Beach in late 2011, he did his homework on the property.

Andriola did not buy the home until after Hurricane Irene swept through New Jersey in August 2011. This allowed him to see how Irene impacted the house and the surrounding neighborhood. He looked for flooding, water leaks, and poor drainage, and found none.

“There was not a drop of water anywhere” from Irene, Andriola recalled. “The property drained perfectly.”

To read the full story  please  click here

Landlord Rental Repair Program Is Life Saver for Seaside Heights Property Owner and His Tenants

IMG_4879Joseph Nezgoda: “The program is helping people who need help. I am grateful for the opportunity that I’ve been given. The program is a beautiful thing.”
May 2, 2016
Seaside Heights, NJ

“I was here when Sandy hit,” said Robert Newman, a resident of Seaside Heights since 2002. He stayed in his second floor apartment, which is located three blocks from the Atlantic Ocean and one and one-half blocks from Barnegat Bay.

He went out the next morning around 5 a.m. to photograph the water that still stood three and a half feet high on the street. “Sandy was bad.”

To read the full story  please click here  

How Do You Elevate A Side-by-Side House When Your Attached Neighbor Isn’t Elevating?

IMG_4686Carol Kelly: “I am so satisfied, so pleased with everything that was done.
That’s the god’s honest truth.”
April 22, 2016
Atlantic City, NJ

For the thousands of homeowners elevating their single family homes through the State’s Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) Program to avoid a repeat of the flood damage caused by Superstorm Sandy, consider this:

How do you raise your house when you live in an attached side-by-side and your neighbor isn’t elevating?

“You lift it from the inside,” Carol Kelly said as if the solution were obvious.

Ms. Kelly and her then fiancé and now husband Robert Balaam stayed in their two-story attached home when Sandy’s flood waters overwhelmed their Atlantic City neighborhood in the pre-dawn hours of Monday, October 29, 2012.

To read the full story  please click here

A Chance Encounter Transforms into a Mantra to Help New Jersey Recover from Sandy

Wall with papers on itDo It for Leo

A few weeks after the State launched the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) Program to help New Jerseyans rebuild primary homes damaged by Superstorm Sandy, Jim Furfari, a housing recovery official, happened to encounter a man in the parking lot of the Ocean County Housing Recovery Center in Lakewood. The homeowner had come to the Housing Recovery Center about his RREM application for grant funding to rebuild his storm-wrecked home.

Something about the gentleman struck Furfari, who helped set up nine Housing Recovery Centers, including the one in Ocean County, for the State’s housing recovery programs. He approached the man, introduced himself, and asked if there was anything the man needed.

Read the full story.

Sandy Housing Counseling Program Continues to Provide Roadmap to Assistance for Families Most Impacted by Superstorm

Winnie, the Sandy Housing Recovery Resource Center Mobile OfficeProgram Gives Hope to People Affected by the Storm

Everybody knows Winnie at The Peoples Pantry.

When the 22-foot-long, colorfully decorated Winnebago pulls up in front of the food pantry in the Silverton Plaza on Hooper Avenue in Toms River, people at the relief center who were impacted by Superstorm Sandy know that additional help has arrived.

Emblazoned with “Sandy Housing Recovery Resource Center Mobile Office,” and lovingly nick-named Winnie, the Winnebago is part of the mobile housing counseling outreach effort operated by the Affordable Housing Alliance (AHA), one of the six non-profit social service agencies providing Sandy-related housing counseling assistance to low- and moderate-income families.

Read the full story.

October 29, 2015 RREM Program Helps Tuckerton Homeowner Reclaim ‘Little Oasis’

DeMarsico1Jeanne DeMarsico: “I was very fortunate and blessed.”

Visit: October 29, 2015
Tuckerton, NJ

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.

Read the full story.

September 24, 2015 RREM Program Helps Manasquan Family Get Their Lives Back

Michael O'Boyle in front of his houseMichael O’Boyle: “We couldn’t have done it without RREM pushing us forward and supporting us.”

Visit: September 24, 2015
Manasquan, NJ

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.

Read the full story.

September 8, 2015 Living the High Life in Middletown Township Thanks to RREM

Meghan Massett standing in front of her houseMeghan Massett: “It’s a new home. It’s a new start.”

Visit: September 8, 2015
Middletown, NJ

Immediately after the State’s Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) Program was launched, Meghan Massett applied online for grant assistance to repair her Middletown Township home that was severely damaged by Superstorm Sandy.

As she lined up contractors to do the work upon being approved for a RREM grant, Ms. Massett emailed state officials for an estimate on when her first RREM check would arrive. The first check was to be the 50 percent advance payment the RREM Program provides homeowners to start construction and Ms. Massett was eager to begin.

She recalls that about 15 minutes after she sent her email inquiry to state officials in Trenton, her telephone rang. At first, Ms. Massett wasn’t exactly sure who the caller was. After a few moments, she realized it was Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno. The Lieutenant Governor had just opened Ms. Massett’s email and was calling to inform the RREM Program participant that she would inquire about the status of the advance payment check. A week later the check arrived.

Read the full story.

October 23, 2015 Jackie and Michael Terefenko Wouldn’t Be Back Home without RREM

The Terenfenkos sitting behind their houseJackie Terefenko: “We came out smelling like a rose. And that’s the truth.”

Visit: October 23, 2015
Stafford Township, NJ

Jackie Terefenko is a fighter. The events of October 29, 2012 didn’t change that.

Jackie’s husband Michael purchased their bayside Beach Haven West bungalow in 1964, and in it, they raised their children. Decades later, as Superstorm Sandy approached the Jersey Shore, they evacuated to higher ground.

Returning two days later, the home they cherished was filled with 48 inches of muck, sand, and saltwater. Saving what they could of their personal affects – dishes, decorations, and family heirlooms – Jackie relied on the support of her friends in those first days (and, truthfully, for the rest of the days until she and her husband rebuilt). The Terefenkos were devastated – but not defeated. It was time to get to work.

Read the full story.

August 27, 2015 “RREM Works” for Ocean City Homeowner

martin marshaMarsha Martin: “Without the RREM Program, I couldn’t have come back home.”

Visit: August 27
Ocean City, NJ

When the Nor’easter hit New Jersey this past October, it caused extensive tidal flooding along the barrier islands along the coast of southern New Jersey, particularly in Atlantic and Cape May county communities.

The flooding from the storm didn’t touch Marsha Martin’s home in Ocean City. “Elevation brought us above water. It’s wonderful to be in here and not have to worry,” said Ms. Martin, whose house was elevated about eight feet through the state’s Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Mitigation Program.  “It’s  great. RREM works.”

Read the full story.

August 7, 2015 Manny Fountain’s ‘Forever Home’ Made Possible through Sandy Recovery Program for Affordable Rental Housing.

Manny Fountain sitting in front of his doorManny Fountain: “I wake up every day and I thank God this is my home. I say this is my ‘forever home’ because I hope to stay here for a while.”

Manny Fountain was living in an apartment a half block away from the Seaside Heights boardwalk before Superstorm Sandy. Born with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and permanently disabled from a car accident in which his sister lost her life, it was his first time living on his own. He relished the independence.




Read the full story.

August 10, 2015 Fred Schaffer: His “get it done” attitude got it done with RREM.

2 aIt might have been easier to wash their hands of the Jersey Shore after Superstorm Sandy’s one-two punch if Fred and Marjorie Schaffer were people who are easily derailed.

They’re not. They’re made of strong stock, and they believe in their community.

In those chaotic months after Sandy belched 3½ feet of water into their three-bedroom bungalow in the Mystic Island section of Little Egg Harbor Township, Ocean County, the Schaffers set aside the feelings of hopelessness. Family roots planted here when they bought the bungalow as a vacation home in 1993 would need some tending to if they were to stand any chance of emerging from the floodwaters.


Read the full story.

July 28, 2015  What Sandy damaged, RREM repaired for Wendy and Ted Amo.

People on the front steps of a house Wendy Amo: “All we wanted was our exact same house back that Sandy took. RREM gave it back to us.”

Wendy Amo greets Samuel Kaplan, her housing advisor at the Ocean Housing Recovery Center: “I will never be able to thank him enough for helping us get back the house we lost in Sandy.”

All Wendy and Theodore Amo wanted was to get back the exact same house they built for their retirement in Mantoloking within sight of the ocean.

In 1981, the couple, both physical education teachers, purchased a small cottage located at the narrowest point on the barrier island south of the Mantoloking Bridge just four houses from the beach. Their plan was to turn it into their retirement home.

Read the full story.

July 25, 2015 There’s nothing like the view from a RREM-elevated home.

Barcellona family in front of their new homeLauren Barcellona: “My father is so happy the RREM Program gave him his house back.”

As Superstorm Sandy approached New Jersey in October 2012, Thomas Barcellona didn’t want to leave his home.

The house held too many memories for the World War II veteran. Right next to Barnegat Bay in Berkeley Township, it was a beautiful property with an amazing view from the back porch and the large window in his living room. Thomas Barcellona’s parents purchased it as a summer home in 1964. Mr. Barcellona lived in Maplewood with his family until he made it his permanent residence when he retired in 1991.



Read the full story.

July 14, 2015 RREM Gave Back to Caryn French Her Childhood Home

The French home RREM Homeowner Caryn French: “RREM Took Care of Everything. I loved it.”

Like so many others, Caryn French lost everything in Sandy.

She went to work the night Sandy made landfall on October 29, 2012, north of Atlantic City. At the time, she worked a few blocks from her home in Keansburg, Monmouth County. She honestly didn’t think Sandy was going to be the “big one.” Ms. French had been cautioned so many times over the years, most recently with Irene, that she no longer knew which warnings to take seriously.

Read the full story.

July 1, 2015 “I wasn’t what you’d call a big government type. RREM is changing my mind on that.” Glen Purdom on the RREM Program

the Purdom homeA refrigeration-cooling contractor by trade, the Atlantic City resident has restored three Harley-Davidson motorcycles as a hobby for relaxation. “I can fix anything,” he admits.

The ability served him well. Add to his list of do-it-yourself repair jobs his Stewart Avenue home of 25 years, which he not only repaired but also elevated 14 feet after Superstorm Sandy floodwaters rushed in.

Located one block from the Inter-Coastal Waterway and one block from the city’s marshlands on the low-lying Chelsea Heights barrier island, Purdom loaded up his most valuable and essential items into his recreational vehicle and drove inland as Sandy approached in October 2012.

Read the full story.

June 15, 2015 Vincent Bruno on the RREM Program: “This is a gift: The State didn’t have to do this.”

Vincent and Susan Bruno in front of their home

For Vincent and Susan Bruno, the key to successfully navigating a natural disaster of Superstorm Sandy’s magnitude was maintaining their positive attitude.

Soon after they moved into their Windsor Avenue home on Barnegat Bay in Toms River in the late 1980s, the Bruno’s elevated their bungalow about 32 inches. That proved sufficient since they were never flooded – until Sandy sent eight feet of water rushing across their property, filling the home with more than two feet of water.

I just sat in a chair watching the water,” Vincent Bruno recalled. “I couldn’t believe it was coming in the house.”

Read the full story.

June 11, 2015 Rudolph Petrella on the RREM Program: “I’m just so grateful to get the help.”

the Petrella homeSuperstorm Sandy sent floodwaters racing through the Bergen County borough of Moonachie so quickly that Rudolph Petrella didn’t have time to get out of his home on Ramella Avenue. He had just enough time to get to his basement, shut off the electricity, and race up to the second floor. During the October 2012 storm, it took the rushing water less than half an hour to crest at nearly 4½ feet, seriously damaging his home 2,000 feet from the Hackensack River….

Read the full story.