Thursday, October 30, 2014
Two Years Later, NJ Is Stronger, More Resilient
Two Years After Superstorm Sandy, The Christie Administration Has Made Significant Progress Helping Residents, Businesses And Communities Build Back Stronger And More Prepared To Withstand Future Storms
HELPING FAMILIES REBUILD STRONGER
Over $1 Billion In Housing Assistance Out The Door Or In The Pipeline:
As New Jersey nears the two-year mark of Superstorm Sandy, thousands of families across the state are making progress towards rebuilding and returning to their homes with the assistance of federal grants administered by the Christie Administration.
· Today, more than $1 Billion in federal housing assistance is out the door or in the pipeline to Sandy-impacted families.
· More than 8,800 homeowners have been approved for grants to repair their homes through the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) Program;
o Of the 4,500 homeowners who already signed a grant award 3,700 are in the construction process from pulling permits and repairing damage to elevating structures and obtaining temporary and final certificates of occupancy.
· With a third round of federal CDBG funds anticipated in the coming months, the State expects to award grants to all eligible homeowners currently enrolled in RREM – the state’s largest Sandy home rebuilding program.
· All 18,561 eligible homeowners have received or will soon receive a $10,000 check from the $215 million Resettlement Program, an initiative aimed at helping homeowners to defray costs and remain in their home county while rebuilding their Sandy-damaged house.
Focusing Assistance On Families That Need It Most:
The Christie Administration is making housing assistance for low and moderate income families a top priority.
· The Department of Community Affairs is preparing to launch a Low and Moderate Income (LMI) Homeowners Rebuilding Program. With a budget of $40 million, the program will focus specifically on assisting low and moderate income families hard hit by Sandy in repairing and reconstructing their homes.
· $102 million has been allocated to help with living expenses for individuals and families still recovering financially from Sandy through the Working Families Living Expenses Voucher Program (also known as SHRAP).
o To date, about 24,500 individuals have received assistance.
· More than 460 units of affordable housing for low and moderate income households have been approved through the Landlord Incentive Program;
· Nearly 250 low and moderate income first-time homebuyers have received interest-free, forgivable mortgages to help buy homes in Sandy-affected communities through the Sandy Homebuyer Assistance Program; More than $12 million has been spent or obligated so far.
· More than $25 million in zero-interest loans have been approved to provide 170 affordable housing units in Sandy-impacted communities through the Neighborhood Enhancement Program; 13 Neighborhood Enhancement Program projects are under construction in the nine most impacted counties. Of these, five will complete construction by December 1 and begin leasing affordable housing units.
· $7.3 million dollars of the $10 million total have been approved to non-profit affordable housing developers for the revitalization of Sandy-affected areas through the Predevelopment Loan Fund For Affordable Rental Housing;
· More than $169 million has been committed to repair and construct affordable multi-family rental housing units through the Fund For Restoration Of Multifamily Housing (FRM). 22 FRM projects are currently under construction, providing more than 1,450 units of affordable housing units.
· More than 450 Sandy-damaged housing units that will be rented to low-to-moderate income families are being repaired through funding from the Landlord Rental Repair Program.
Elevating Homes To Protect From Future Storms:
In order to protect New Jersey communities from future storms, the Christie Administration launched a $100 million grant program to assist homeowners elevate their homes. Targeted at homes in the nine counties hardest hit by Sandy, the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) Elevation Program provides up to $30,000 for eligible homeowners to elevate their primary single-family residences.
· DEP has identified 2,700 residential properties for elevation grants under its Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.
· So far, the DEP has awarded nearly 1,064 elevation grants in 38 towns across five counties. These grants total nearly $32 million.
· The Christie Administration has submitted more than 1,400 elevation applications for NJ Homeowners to FEMA for approval.
Giving Homeowners The Option To Sell Sandy-Damaged Property
Through New Jersey’s existing Blue Acres Program, the Christie Administration is giving homeowners the option of selling their properties damaged by Superstorm Sandy in tidal areas of New Jersey. The program is designed to give homeowners the ability to choose the best option for their individual situation.
· 500 voluntary buyout offers have been made, and 322 willing sellers have accepted.
· The State has been evaluating more than 1,300 homes in repetitive flooding communities and over719 applicants have already been approved.
o So far, 200 homes have been purchased.
o 86 homes have been demolished.
· The Christie Administration is working to aggressively identify and reach out to additional eligible residents to inform them of buyout opportunities and assist them with the application process.
Cutting Through Insurance Red Tape:
One of the biggest frustrations many New Jerseyans have faced throughout the recovery process is delays and hassles over their claims with private insurance companies. The Christie Administration has fought for residents to cut red tape and speed up the process to get residents the help they need.
· Over 99 Percent of the 472,242 non-flood, state-regulated private insurance claims filed for homes, businesses and automobiles after Sandy have been closed with payments totaling more than $4.41 billion billion to New Jersey policy holders.
· Almost $3.9 billion in flood insurance settlements have been paid to New Jersey residents and businesses, after the Christie Administration pressed federal leadership from the Flood Insurance and Mitigation Administration to pay out;
· 66.5 Percent – or 472 of the 709 – of mediation sessions have been settled as part of the Christie Administration’s mediation program to help residents cut through red tape.
HELPING NEW JERSEY’S BUSINESSES GET BACK ON THEIR FEET
The Christie Administration has remained committed to helping the nearly 190,000 businesses in New Jersey affected by Superstorm Sandy get back on their feet.
· The New Jersey Economic Development Authority has awarded $160 million to support small businesses and communities through the Stronger NJ Business programs.
o More than $95.5 million in recovery grants and loans has been approved for over 920 small businesses since the Stronger NJ Business Grant and Loan programs launched in May and July of 2013 respectively.
o Under the Stronger NJ Neighborhood and Community Revitalization Program, which provides funding for long-term economic revitalization priorities in Sandy-impacted communities, $65 million has been approved to date.
· Although many of New Jersey’s iconic boardwalks were damaged or destroyed by Sandy, every single public boardwalk and beach along the Shore was open for this past beach season. This includes the 10 miles of beaches, boardwalks and bayside trails at Island Beach State Park that had been so severely damaged by the storm.
· 33 gas stations located on or near evacuation routes have been awarded $1.85 million in grants to install back-up generators or connector equipment to hook up to portable generators during major power failures.
The Associated Press: “Good weather and greater awareness that the Jersey shore has made huge strides in recovering from Superstorm Sandy helped make the second summer after the storm better than the first one, many shore merchants and elected officials say. Some business owners report profits up 20 to 30 percent this summer compared with last year's, when the shore was still in the early stages of recovering from the devastating Oct. 29, 2012, storm.” (“Good weather, Sandy recovery successes boost Jersey shore tourism in second summer after storm,”The Associated Press, 8/29/14)
PREPARING NEW JERSEY FOR FUTURE STORMS
As part of the long-term recovery strategy, the Christie Administration is committed to rebuilding stronger and smarter, and ensuring New Jersey’s communities and infrastructure are more prepared to withstand future storms.
Strengthening Communities Against Flooding:
Beach Restoration and Dunes: After Superstorm Sandy, the State worked closely with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on a massive undertaking to repair and improve beaches, and to build a comprehensive coastal protection system: The USACE's New York District completed its $345 million post-Superstorm Sandy beach repair and restoration projects along the Monmouth County coastline. That work returned previously constructed beaches damaged by Sandy, from Sandy Hook to Manasquan, to their original protection design.
· DEP is working with the USACE to build 11 new coastal and flood protection projects statewide. These projects, which will cost more than $1 billion, will help create an engineered, comprehensive shore protection system along the Atlantic coast, while also bolstering protections on the Delaware Bay coast, Raritan Bay, Sandy Hook Bay and tidal portions of the South River and the Passaic River.
Easements To Ensure Shore Protection: The state intervened in the pivotal Harvey Cedars V. Karan case and prevailed, reducing a more than $375,000 to a $1.00 settlement and has now obtained more than 80 percent of the property easements needed to enable construction of shore protection and flood mitigation projects along the State’s 127 miles of shoreline. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has signed off on all major Shore protection projects and construction will begin next month.
Sea Bright Sea Wall: In August 2014, the Christie Administration announced that Sea Bright will receive $8.5 million in state funding to repair and extend the borough’s sea wall, which is vital to the protection of this northern Monmouth County town from future storms.
Mantoloking and Brick Steel Sheet Piling: Construction is underway on a project by the Department of Environmental Services to install a steel sheet piling into the beaches of Mantoloking and Brick to protect a four-mile section of Route 35 and nearby homes and businesses from future severe storms. The $23.8 million project will be completed in November.
Coastal Resiliency Projects: In June, the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) announced that it would award $25.3 million in competitive matching grants to New Jersey-based projects through the Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resilience Grant Program. These projects are designed to mitigate the threat of extreme weather events to coastal communities using science-based solutions. Approved projects for program funding include:
· Reusing Dredged Material to Restore Salt Marshes and Protect Communities: Reuse dredge materials to restore 90 acres of salt marsh for Avalon, Stone Harbor and Fortescue. Enhanced salt marsh will provide wildlife habitat and reduce flooding and erosion impacts on nearby communities.
· Building Ecological Solutions to Coastal Community Hazards: Develop, design and deliver green infrastructure techniques that add ecological value and enhance community resiliency for coastal communities.
· Enhancing Liberty State Park’s Marshes and Upland Habitats: Create and improve Liberty State Park’s 40 acres of salt marsh and 100 acres of upland habitat in Jersey City. Project will improve ecosystem resiliency and create a new publicly accessible area within the park.
Comprehensive Flood Mitigation: This summer, The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced that New Jersey will receive $380 million to implement two flood mitigation projects designed and selected through a HUD-sponsored design competition, Rebuild by Design. The funds are included in the third round allocation of CDBG-DR funds, totaling more than $881 million, including significant assistance for New Jersey's recovery and rebuilding programs benefitting Sandy-affected homeowners and renters. The winning New Jersey projects will address flood risk in densely populated communities with repetitive flooding challenges:
· “New Meadowlands”: This flood risk reduction project consists of a large natural reserve along the Hackensack River, designed to help reduce flooding in Little Ferry, Moonachie, Carlstadt, Teterboro and South Hackensack. The design envisions using an intricate system of green infrastructure, including berms and marshes, to protect against ocean surges and help reduce sewer overflows in adjacent towns.
· “Resist, Delay, Store, Discharge”: This flood risk reduction project is a comprehensive urban water strategy that will use hard infrastructure and soft landscape for coastal defense, while also addressing systemic drainage issues. It includes a variety of flood risk reduction infrastructure that will be built along the Hudson River, stopping flood waters from intruding into Hoboken and parts of Weehawken and Jersey City. This new infrastructure will complement resilience measures undertaken in the area by New Jersey Transit, including proposals currently being reviewed by the Federal Transit Administration for competitive recovery funds.
Hardening The State’s Critical Infrastructure:
New Jersey Energy Resilience Bank As part of the Christie Administration’s continuing efforts to minimize the impact of future major power outages and increase energy resiliency, the State established New Jersey Energy Resilience Bank (ERB), the first public infrastructure bank in the nation to focus on energy resilience. Using $200 million of CDBG funds, the ERB will support the development of distributed energy resources at critical facilities throughout the State.
NJTransit This summer, NJTransit was awarded $1.276 billion in federal resources to fund five projects designed to strengthen the agency’s infrastructure. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) awarded the grants as part of a highly competitive regional competition that included 13 states vying for $3 billion in total available funding.
· NJ TRANSITGRID: Originally announced by Governor Christie and United States Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz in August 2013, NJ TRANSITGRID will serve as a first-of-its-kind electrical microgrid capable of supplying highly-reliable power during storms or other times when the centralized power grid is compromised. NJ TRANSITGRID will incorporate renewable energy, distributed generation, and other technologies to provide resilient power to key NJ TRANSIT stations, maintenance facilities, bus garages, and other buildings.
· Raritan River Drawbridge Replacement: The North Jersey Coast Line's Raritan River Drawbridge sustained structural damage during Superstorm Sandy and service was suspended for three weeks. The grant will allow NJ TRANSIT to replace this one-hundred-year-old drawbridge with a far more resilient structure, thus enhancing the reliability of the North Jersey Coast Line.
· Hoboken Long Slip Flood Projection: During Sandy, Long Slip — a 2,000- ft. east-west penetration of the Hudson River into Hoboken Rail Yard — acted as a conduit for surge waters and contributed to the inundation of both Hoboken Terminal and its adjacent rail yard. This project will fill the Long Slip as well as construct six new tracks and three boarding platforms. The elevated position of these tracks and platforms will permit the rapid recovery of commuter rail services following a storm event.
· Train Storage And Service Restoration Project: NJ TRANSIT will build a new Delco Lead and Service and Inspection Facility. This project is focused on protecting equipment against functional damage resulting from wind or flooding, and facilitating the rapid resumption of service after storms have passed. The new strategically located facility will provide resilient storage and will facilitate the rapid return to service following a storm event.
· Train Control & Communication Resiliency Project: Four of NJ TRANSIT's ten commuter rail lines and the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Line have been identified as having vulnerability to future storms and will be strengthened to protect critical signal, power and communications systems used to control train speed, switches and track choice, and following distances for safe operations.
Reconstruction of Route 35: Sandy carried away entire sections of Route 35 and completely destroyed the highway drainage system. In July 2013, the Christie Administration officially broke ground on the $265 million construction project to rebuild Route 35, the gateway to many of the barrier islands that make up the Jersey Shore.
· The reconstruction of Route 35 is incorporating “best practices,” including flood vents, anti-scour measures, and pump stations.
Wastewater Treatment: New Jersey also this summer received a $260 million Public Assistance grant to the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission (PVSC), the largest mitigation grant FEMA has ever issued through the Public Assistance Program. Funding will be used to build a comprehensive flood protection system at the wastewater treatment facility in Newark and incorporate microgrid technology to allow the facility to continue to operate when the larger electric grid fails. Additional funding will also made available through the Environmental Infrastructure Trust for additional hardening and resilience measures.