Spencer, Smith outraged over storm victims’ treatment

ATLANTIC CITY – The chairs of the Environment committees expressed outrage Thursday after hearing horror stories from storm-ravaged residents about post-Superstorm Sandy battles with government agencies, insurance companies and mortgage lenders.

The two committees held a four-hour joint hearing at the Convention Center here to explore issues related to last year’s superstorm.

The stories told by residents of dealing with uncooperative state agencies left Sen. Bob Smith and Assemblywoman Grace Spencer outraged.

“What we heard were stories of people being treated like dogs,’’ Smith said. He referred to homeowners who told stories of being made to fill out seven or eight applications for assistance, of not getting through to people for help, and of applicants discovering they were denied aid but not understanding why.

Spencer said that the administration’s upbeat press releases give one impression of New Jersey recovering from the storm, but the stories told today by people who still can’t live in their homes gives another.

“What actually is happening is there are people who have not recovered from the storm,’’ she said.

Smith called what happened to some of the people who testified today an “abomination,’’ and both he and Spencer said they would be in contact with the Department of Community Affairs in particular about how Sandy victims are being treated.

Spencer said she also will be in touch with DCA after hearing testimony today about how renters are being mistreated by landlords.

Smith pointed out that the administration’s point man on Sandy recovery, Marc Ferzan, was invited to attend the hearing but did not.  Smith said they were informed he was in Washington, D.C. today.

The committee chairs both said another hearing will be held in Trenton.


Spencer, Smith outraged over storm victims’ treatment