By John Burton
SEA BRIGHT – Mayor Dina Long is taking issue with state officials’ estimates on the number of buildings affected and the extent of damage that was incurred due to Super Storm Sandy.
Long, at Tuesday’s borough council meeting, took exception to the totals calculated by the state’s Department of Community Affairs (DCA) in its determination of the damage. According to Long, the DCA said 574 homes experienced varying degrees of damage. And of that number, 32 were deemed to have seen “major damage,” meaning under the state guidelines, damage ranged between $8,000 and $32,000. She also noted that 63 homes had damage labeled as “substantial” meaning damage estimated at more than $28,800.
But for Long, “These numbers don’t represent on-the-ground truth,” she said, believing them to be more. She said her feelings were based upon personally viewing the damage the late October storm did to hers and others’ homes.
The state’s data concentrated on primary residences and was compiled for the department’s action plan submitted to the federal Department of Community Affairs for review and approval of disaster recovery funds, according to a DCA source speaking on background.
This isn’t an academic disagreement between the borough and state; this could have real ramifications for property owners and local officials as they continue to seek out money and resources to move forward from the storm, she said.
“If these numbers are grossly underestimated,” she warned, “we’ll be underfunded.”
Borough officials will be looking to independently compile their own data to contest the state’s findings.
Long didn’t offer any estimates to directly contradict DCA’s numbers. In November, Long said the borough saw $450 million in damages, the number borough officials submitted to the FEMA.
A DCA representative had no comment on Long’s assertions.