TOMS RIVER – As New Jersey officials struggle to find ways to recover from the massive devastation left in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, city and state officials are still grappling to determine how many New Jersey families have been displaced from their homes.
Senate lawmakers hosted the first of a series of meetings Monday to hear from local officials about the epic damage to the state caused by the historic storm. Members of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee heard a few vague estimates from local officials on the number of displaced homeowners, which put the number of displaced families or those whose homes sustained heavy damage in the area of 13,000 residences.
That number represents only two areas of the state whose local officials gave testimony to the committee.
Brick Township’s mayor, Stephen Acropolis, told officials that between 7,000 and 9,000 homes were severely damaged by the storm.
“No picture or video will do this justice,” Acropolis said, adding that 109 homes alone burned to the ground on the barrier islands in Brick.
Farther south, an estimated 5,000 residents were displaced from their homes in Toms River, according to the town’s chief of police, Mike Mastronardy.
In Belmar, where officials say they will rebuild their boardwalk a full 12 inches higher than it was prior to Sandy hitting their shore, Mayor Matt Doherty told reporters that a minimal amount of homes were severally damaged and that roughly 1,200 suffered some type of damage by the storm.
Gov. Chris Christie has yet to give out estimates on the number of New Jerseyans displaced by the storm and during Monday’s Senate hearing, State Police Supt. Col. Rick Fuentes was not asked by lawmakers to give a number and didn’t offer the information during his prepared remarks.
A governor’s spokesman said estimates at this stage would be shaky at best, and added that local officials are still struggling to account for all of their residents.
Late last week, the governor’s administration issued a report indicating Sandy could have cost the state nearly $30 billion in damage.