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Sandy 'Bill of Rights' Tour Makes Stop In Keansburg

State Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) is trying to build support for legislation that could improve the storm recovery grants process for homeowners.

On March 20, State Senator Steve Sweeney (center) came to the Bayshore Community Center to talk about his Sandy ‘Bill of Rights.”   At his left is Keansburg Deputy Mayor Jimmy Cocuzza to his right, Congressman Frank Pallone.
On March 20, State Senator Steve Sweeney (center) came to the Bayshore Community Center to talk about his Sandy ‘Bill of Rights.” At his left is Keansburg Deputy Mayor Jimmy Cocuzza to his right, Congressman Frank Pallone.
Music teacher Ed Kelly of Keansburg raised his 2-story house after it was swamped by Superstorm Sandy tidal surge, to the tune of $150,000.

He was confident that he was following all the official advice on how to go about rebuilding after the storm. But now he said he is learning he does not qualify for for Sandy aid grants because the federal government did not oversee the work. 

"I followed all the rules, I called all the right people, I asked all the right questions," said Kelly, 53, of West Shore Street, who has taken out a small business loan to pay the bill. He has two filing cabinet drawers full of paperwork, but not a dime of grant money. "I'm on the hook for everything," he said.  

Kelly was one of a handful of local Sandy survivors who wanted to be heard at a special event Thursday at the Bayshore Senior Center, arranged by State Senate President John Sweeney's office. It was the fifth stop around the state for Sweeney, who invited residents to tell him their stories of frustration. He shared the podium with Congressman Frank Pallone (D-6), whose district was among the hardest hit in New Jersey.

Sweeney is promoting legislation called the "Superstorm Sandy Bill of Rights" that would require a plain language explanation about who is eligible for storm recovery programs, and allow people to know the status of their case, and reasons for rejection or delays. 

Sweeney said the Sandy grant distribution process has suffered from a lack of transparency and answers. "There has to be a do-over for some of these people," he said.  

Restaurant owner Marilyn Schlossbach of Toms River, who has taken out a $500,000 loan to save her two businesses in Ocean County, said she's been chasing the bleak hope of qualifying for a $50,000 grant but has not been successful. "I know the money is there," she said. 

 

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