Barely National News: Almost a Year on, Sandy Victims Still Being Jerked Around by Govt.

In a keister-covering dispatch at the Associated Press, aka the Adminstration's Press, which, based on its headline, is supposed to be a big-picture look at where recovery efforts from last year's Superstorm Sandy stand ("NORMALCY ELUDES MANY A YEAR AFTER SANDY HIT NJ"), reporter Wayne Parry spent the vast majority of his 900-plus words on problems residents are having with insurance companies.

It doesn't take a great deal of effort to determine that problems originating with the federal government and other government entities are far larger in scope.


Here are excerpts from Parry's prose (bolds are mine throughout this post):

NORMALCY ELUDES MANY A YEAR AFTER SANDY HIT NJ

Bart Sutton fought with his insurance company for a year over what it would cost to rebuild his flood-damaged home, then gave up in frustration and tore it down. A week later, the money came through.

Simone and Ken Dannecker fixed their flooded home themselves, deciding they couldn't wait for insurance and government aid as green mold threatened to overrun it. Now, with the work nearly done, they are all but bankrupt - and still can't afford to elevate the house they fought so hard to stay in.

Gigi Liaguno-Dorr needs $2 million to rebuild the bayfront restaurant that was one of the town's major employers; she has less than a quarter of that and says she has never felt so helpless.

For these three families in Union Beach, a blue-collar enclave clinging precariously to the Raritan Bay, full recovery from Superstorm Sandy is still elusive nearly a year after the storm pummeled the state Oct. 29. That's also true to thousands of others at the Jersey shore; in Ocean County alone, the county planning board estimated 26,000 people were unable to return to their homes as of last month.

Michael Drewniak, a spokesman for Gov. Chris Christie, could not estimate how many storm-damaged homes remain unoccupied. ...

(Final 2 of 22 paragraphs)

... Dorr has yet to receive a penny in government assistance despite applying for several programs. She will soon be on her eighth adviser for just one particular grant application.

"I have never felt more helpless than I do right now," she said. "We're struggling. And I'm not alone. Everybody I know is like this."

Dorr's situation involving government failure involves far more money than the others Parry identified which have to do with insurance companies. Also note that Parry didn't mention that Dorr's dispute involves the government until his final paragraphs, while insurance companies were front and center in the opening pair of items.

What follows are three stories indicating that governments have far more to do with aid delays than insurance companies (and that's before considerin the fact that insurance companies won't make final funds disbursements on a particular until they know exactly what the government will do, which often isn't the easiest thing to determine).

The first comes from the New York Daily News on September 30:

Hurricane Sandy victims to be 'fully compensated' for repairs after being stiffed by FEMA rule: Gov. Cuomo
The wording of a FEMA regulation on flood damage left some homeowners without enough funds to rebuild their homes after Sandy. Gov. Cuomo announced on Saturday that the victims will now be paid from federal hurricane funds given to New York.

Hurricane Sandy victims stiffed by a quirky clause from collecting on federal insurance claims will be “fully compensated” by New York State.

Gov. Cuomo’s announcement Saturday was hailed by homeowners left bereft by a Federal Emergency Management Administration rule about damage caused by shifting earth during flooding.

The regulation left hundreds of residents around the hurricane-battered state without enough funds to rebuild homes with cracked foundations and buckled floors.

The victims will now get paid from federal hurricane funds funneled into New York, the governor said.

If this kind of denial of federal funds by FEMA had occurred during Katrina, it would have made national news as an unacceptable technicality. Instead, it's descripbed as "quirky," and confined to being a local story which makes New York Governor Andy Cuomo look like a hero for what may very well be a questionable bending of federal fules.

The second item comes from Brooklyn Channel 12 on September 30:

FEMA ends funding for hotel program for displaced victims of Superstorm Sandy

Superstorm Sandy victims still living in hotels only have a few days left to find new homes.

Funding is coming to an end for a hotel program for displaced victims. City officials say hotel rooms are paid for through this Friday for 300 remaining people, and then they will be on their own.

The program is funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which reimbursed the city for more than $70 million it spent putting a roof over victims’ heads since the storm hit last October.

If the city continued to fund the program without FEMA, it would cost taxpayers $2 million a month to house the remaining 300 in hotels indefinitely.

$2 million a month is $6,667 per person, assuming every one of the 300 "people" have single occumpancy. That's well over $200 per person per day. That seems excessive, even for the Northeast, considering that a typical hotel room goes unoccupied over 40% of time at an average cost which is about 50% lower.

FEMA's ejection from hotels and other temporary facilities of certain affected Katrina victims in 2006 3-5 month after the storm made national news. A similar action with Sandy after a year — the necessity of which more than likely relates to weak rebuilding efforts — is just a local story.

The third is an AP story from August by Occupy movement flunky Meghan Barr which I don't recall seeing on the national news wire:

Little is rebuilt at NYC beach burned during Sandy

SandyBeachDevastation2012

On a desolate stretch of sand and concrete rubble in a beachfront community, a lone home is rising amid the ruins of nearly 130 houses that burned to ashes during Superstorm Sandy.

... A perfect storm of government inefficiency, cumbersome permit laws and general confusion has hampered the recovery effort in Breezy Point, which became a symbol of the storm's devastation after images of the charred neighborhood were broadcast to the rest of the world.

Government inefficiency and waste are apparently only worthy of national coverage during Republican and conservative presidential administrations.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.