By Daniel Nee
Despite billions of dollars pledged by the federal government to assist in the recovery from Superstorm Sandy, some state officials say New Jerseyans may have been short-changed by their own state with a lack of financial assistance.
"One of the things we have to think about is New Jersey getting into the game," said state Sen. Bob Smith (D-Middlesex), who led a joint meeting of the New Jersey Senate and Assembly environmental committees this month in Toms River. "We did it in [Hurricane] Floyd, and it helped, but this time the state of New Jersey didn't do anything for its citizens."
After the remnants of Hurricane Floyd inundated portions of North Jersey, especially the town of Bound Brook, with river flooding, the state provided $100 million in disaster relief funding, Smith said. But in Sandy, the Garden State has relied solely on federal dollars and reimbursements, forcing state residents to comply with "one-size fits all" federal rules that make recovery more difficult.
"As long as we're living by the federal rules and federal rules only, the piper is calling the tune, and that tune is not necessarily good for New Jersey," Smith said.
"We as legislators have to take a stand," said Assemblywoman Grace Spencer (D-Essex).
Smith said legislation could be acted on as early as January to provide state funding to assist storm victims. Sen. Jim Whelan (D-Atlantic) has already introduced a bill to provide $100 million, the same amount that was allocated for victims of Hurricane Floyd.
At the same meeting, Lauren Townsend of the advocacy group US Strong, said her organization estimates that coast-wide, between $8 billion and $13 billion in damage from Sandy will not be covered by the federal government.
"Savings are gone, homes have been swallowed whole and small business owners' dreams have been lost," she told the bipartisan committees.
How residents responded on Patch.com
More Sandy: One Year Later