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Storm Chronicles: Part Five - Gimme Shelter

Constant stress, confusion bring on relentless fatigue for many

 

"Oh, a storm is threatening

My very life today

If I don't get some shelter

Oh yeah, I'm gonna fade away" - from "Gimme Shelter" by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards

It's been over three months since Superstorm Sandy roared into the Jersey coastline, changing landscapes and lives forever.

At first, some people were optimistic the mess could be turned around in a relatively short period of time. Now we know better. Now the sickening realization that things will never be the same has sunk in.

Township Council President James J. Byrnes had it right when he said at a recent council meeting that storm fatigue had set in. I've got it and so do too many other people.

I'm tired of acronyms like FEMA, ICC, ABFEs, SBA. I'm tired of all the things I've had to learn and still have to learn before this is all over. I'm tired of contractors who say they will be there, then don't show up. 

Unlike some neighboring towns, Berkeley Township has been amazingly proactive since Sandy hit. Mayor Carmen F. Amato Jr. and Byrnes quickly organized a number of informational sessions, so residents could learn what the acronyms mean, where to get help, how high they have to go or if they have to go up.

But you can't make flood insurance carriers settle flood claims. Meeting after meeting, someone gets up and talks about how they haven't even gotten an advance check yet.

We were lucky. The adjuster from our flood insurance carrier showed up less than two days after the storm. Some people are still waiting for theirs to come.

Don Little was a great comfort. Folksy and friendly, he squished through each room of the house, taking measurements, pictures and notes.

"I know you don't believe it now," he said, his voice thick with a North Carolina drawl, the Sheriff Andy Taylor of insurance adjusters. "But it's not always going to be like this. We will get this straightened out and you'll be back home."

Don made sure we got advance checks early, to hire people to rip out sodden carpets and insulation, tear up the floors, cut the Sheetrock and spray for mold. Because of his vigilance, we have already received our entire insurance claim.

But others haven't been so lucky. There are still some who can't get an adjuster out to their house, much less get an advance check. There are still some who haven't been able to treat their homes for mold.

And there are many, many people who don't know if they will ever go home again. Maybe they didn't hit the magic 50.1 percent number, which means their damaged homes are eligible for a $30,000 grant to raise their homes.

They didn't hit the magic number, so if they don't raise their homes, they will eventually be hit with horrendous flood insurance premiums. Already there are  "For Sale" signs in many sections of Bayville, many more than you would traditionally see at this time of the year.

I said goodbye to Connie, my neighbor of more than two decades, last week. We sat in her living room with her son Nick and her daughter-in-law, who came to help her dismantle her home and move her to Missouri, so she will be close to them.

When it was time to leave, I thanked her for being a good neighbor. We both knew we will probably never see each other again. Connie was the first to leave our Bayville neighborhood. She won't be the last.

New buzzwords like "repopulation" have sprung up. But they don't mean much if people don't have homes they can go back to. They don't mean much if you live on a street where no one else does.

There's a yellow sign on Dorrance Drive in the horror show that is now Good Luck Point. It says "Children at Play." But there are no children in the streets of this tiny section of Bayville. Only a few people live in that lonely place now.

I know that sometime within the next few months, we will be able to move back into our house. The electrician is almost finished. Most of the house had to be rewired, outlets replaced and moved up higher, a new service installed.

The plumber will start next week. Right now there is no kitchen, no bathroom. No heat. The walls have to be taped, spackled and painted and new floors put down.

Then it's on to the biggie - raising the house. This is all temporary, I keep telling myself. But month after month of temporary wears you down. If I had known on Oct. 29, the day we fled the storm, we would still be out in February, I would have been hysterical. It's better I didn't know.

Footsteps echo on the subfloors in my house. There is no furniture, no belongings to muffle their sounds. That will change too.

But it's a long, long haul. And I want to go home now.

Ortley Home Owner February 04, 2013 at 08:15 PM
What is the requirement for Ortley. Do all homes have to meet th "V" zone flood height requirements or ar the "A" zones on the FEMA map remaining "A"?
Chief Wahoo February 04, 2013 at 10:34 PM
George, You somehow forgot to include Maggie Moran , Corzines manager , who also happens to be Dohertys wife, the Belmar mayor.......funny it looks like you had plenty of words left to include that they are sleeping together and married even though their last names are different yet have the audacity to tell people they never talked about this conflict of interest ...its also funny how most public officials have different lasst names.....anyone ever take a second from their pathetic lives and ask WHY ??????????????? Finally, what you are missing , because of your obvious liberal bias, IS THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE IN EITHER GANG OF THIEFS !!!!!...........NONE !!!! AND THIS STORY IS PROOF POSITIVE OF THAT !!!!!!!!!!
anthony esposito February 05, 2013 at 03:38 AM
I feel your pain. We are all grieving right now suffering the loss of our way of life. It will take us time to grieve and heal. Ill prayer to GOD for all of us
TRWatch February 05, 2013 at 03:50 AM
Chief, George Gilmore will swipe more in one day, in Ocean County, than Moran and Doherty can get in a year in Belmar. I agree with you, there is no difference between scum. These people have no shame.
Michelle Blamble February 05, 2013 at 02:15 PM
The current prelim maps have V zones on the beach and bay and A in between. But it seems that our wonderful town engineer has been working to convince FEMA that the entire island should be a V so they may change it. Wonder if we can sue him personally for violating his fiduciary duty?

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