Hurricane protection plans delayed on Jersey Shore as towns divided over sand dunes

It was hailed as the best defense against the next Superstorm Sandy — a 12-mile network of massive sand dunes designed by the Army’s finest engineers. Nowhere was it needed more than along the Jersey Shore beaches in northern Ocean County. The entire town of Mantoloking was nearly swallowed up by the sea. Few houses were left standing in nearby Ortley Beach. And Seaside Heights was hit so hard the iconic Jet Star roller coaster was sucked into the ocean. But more than two years after it was approved, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project to beef up the beaches is trapped in a storm of controversy. The plan has ignited tensions between oceanfront homeowners who oppose the building of the dunes and inland residents who view them as their savior. Lawsuits have been filed. Communities have splintered. The project is now on hold, with no start date in sight, leaving thousands of Jersey Shore homes vulnerable to the next big storm. ROCKAWAY BOARDWALK IS BOUNCING BACK FROM HURRICANE SANDY “Do I feel protected? Not at all,” said Joyce Rice, whose Ortley Beach home took in more than four feet of water. “If another storm comes, we’re going to be in the same situation again.” In the months after Sandy decimated the region, the Army project seemed like a no-brainer. If another storm comes, we’re going to be in the same situation again. A statewide review of the damage revealed that the beaches where the Army had already built up dunes fared the best against the monster storm surge. The Army won’t begin such projects without getting permission from all the affected oceanfront homeowners to access their properties. That’s where the problems started. Oceanfront homeowners, most in the upscale town of Bay Head, refused to sign the construction easements. Though Gov. Christie has cast the holdouts as a wealthy few solely concerned Continue Reading

New Jersey protesters in Iowa blast Gov. Chris Christie over Hurricane Sandy

Gov. Christie brought a bit of Jersey baggage along on his latest visit to Iowa. A pair of Garden State demonstrators ripped the governor Saturday at the Iowa Agriculture Summit over his handling of Hurricane Sandy rebuilding on the Jersey Shore. “Finish the Job in New Jersey,” read a sign waved by demonstrator Amanda Devecka-Rinear as Christie answered questions for the Des Moines audience. She was joined by Joe Mangino of Beach Haven West, N.J., during the Republican governor’s 20-minute stay at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. The two stood up to interrupt Christie, who responded by joking with event moderator Bruce Rastetter. “I’m glad to see that New Jersey has come,” the governor said. “How great is that? Great to have you here. And I think you’ll understand that I’ll deal with you the same way here as I deal with you in New Jersey.” That wasn’t exactly true. Christie, who ordered another Sandy activist to “Sit down and shut up!” last year in Belmar, N.J., waited for police to escort the pair out. “I think maybe he’s been told to tone down his temper,” said a third Jersey protester, Lisa Stevens of Little Egg Harbor, N.J. “His approval ratings are dropping significantly.” Christie’s popularity is at an all-time low among his Jersey constituents — with just 37% giving him a favorable rating. Stevens said the demonstrators were upset that likely GOP presidential candidate Christie is putting the White House above the Jersey shore homes of his constituents. Christie spent all or part of 137 days out of his home state in 2014. “Our governor is spending too much time out of state, and has to finish the job in New Jersey,” said Stevens, who couldn’t get into the event. “We have to keep sending a message that you can’t walk out on our state.” The Fair Share Continue Reading

City Council wants NYCHA to share plan on spending $3B in federal funds for Hurricane Sandy repairs

The City Council wants to know how the city Housing Authority plans to spend $3 billion it just got from the feds to fix up 33 developments severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Public Housing Committee Chairman Ritchie Torres (D-Bronx) and Mark Treyger (D-Brooklyn), who chairs a panel on storm recovery, sent NYCHA a letter last week demanding that by Friday it turn over documents spelling out its plans. Mayor de Blasio and NYCHA Chairwoman Shola Olatoye announced last Tuesday that — more than two years after the storm struck — the Federal Emergency Management Agency had finally agreed to provide billions to flood-proof Sandy-damaged developments in Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan. NYCHA has said it expects work to begin this summer, but it has yet to specify what work will take place or how long it will take. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Talks with FEMA on Hurricane Sandy payouts falling apart

Talks between the Federal Emergency Management Agency and hundreds of Hurricane Sandy victims cheated out of insurance money have hit a major setback, according to people familiar with the negotiations. At a status hearing Tuesday in Brooklyn Federal Court, a tentative deal to pay each of the nearly 700 claimants an average settlement of $112,000 has collapsed, sources said. Lawyers and congressional aides tracking the talks said Homeland Security Department General Counsel Stephen Bunnell overruled a FEMA decision to offer homeowners additional funds equal to 25% of payouts to cover legal fees and other expenses. "To say this is outrageous does not cover it," said Steven Mostyn, an Austin attorney who represents the plaintiffs. Sources said FEMA had agreed to cover the legal fees in exchange for plaintiffs agreeing to give up the right to join future lawsuits over the issue. FEMA spokesman Rafael Lemaitre denied talks have broken down. “Settlement negotiations continue and they are making progress,” Lemaitre said. FEMA agreed to negotiate directly with lawyers for thousands of homeowners affected by Sandy who allege that private insurance companies denied their flood insurance claims because of fraudulently altered engineering reports. The agency is working to settle at least 2,200 claims and agreed to reconsider 144,000 claims by storm victims who may have been fraud victims. Affected homeowners are concentrated on the south shore of Long Island, Staten Island and the New Jersey shore. With John Marzulli Continue Reading

Hurricanes waive Alexander Semin, will buy out his contract

The Hurricanes waived Alexander Semin on Tuesday with the intent of buying out the Russian winger's contract. He needs to clear waivers by Wednesday at noon prior to being bought out. Semin, 31, signed a five-year, $35 million extension with the Canes in March of 2013 and had three years left on his contract at $7 million per season. RELATED: ISLES, ANDERS LEE COME TO TERMS ON FOUR-YEAR DEAL He had the least productive year of his career last season in Carolina with a measly 19 points (six goals, 13 assists) in 57 games with the Hurricanes. The buyout will cost the Canes $2.33 million per season the next six years. Once a 40-goal scorer in 2009-10 for Washington, Semin scored just 41 goals in three seasons for Carolina. Brad Boyes was also placed on waivers by the Panthers and will be bought out from the last year of his contract on Wednesday if and when he clears waivers. He will cost Florida approximately $833,000 over the next two seasons. A former Islander, Boyes, 33, tallied 38 points (14 goals, 24 assists) last season for the Panthers. Continue Reading

7 things every homeowner should know during Hurricane Preparedness Week

The Atlantic hurricane season will begin June 1 and to help people prepare, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration kicked-off its Hurricane Preparedness Week Sunday. During hurricane season it's important to stock up on food, water and other emergency materials. Although it may seem like a no-brainer to prepare, sometimes people forget or don't have time. Clement Feng, senior vice president of marketing and storm preparedness expert at Generac, told the Daily News that people who live in a hurricane zone should always have the essentials. "The basics are to try and have a preparedness kit in your house that includes things like nonperishable food and water enough to last a family for three days," Feng told the Daily News. "Have a battery powered or hand crank radio, flashlights and batteries and photo copies of your most important documents." Creating an emergency checklist, having hurricane-proof household items and charging electronics are also a few additional things homeowners should be reminded of. Because it's always better to be safe than sorry, here are some things you should do to prepare before the storms hit this hurricane season: In case of a power outage make sure to have clean laundry and dishes ahead of time. If the power goes out for several days you'll be stuck with dirty items and won't be able to clean them. Power outages are very likely to happen during a hurricane, so you need to make sure all your electronics are charged. That includes laptops, smartphones, tablets and even gaming consoles for the children. Your phone will definitely need to be charged in case you need to make an emergency call. Make sure to also have extra batteries. Have an automatic standby house generator installed. Flashlights, candles and portable generators can only get you so far during an extended power outage. Portable generators can be a good temporary solution, but they are more dangerous than a standby generator. Portable Continue Reading

Rockaway Beach boardwalk is bouncing back from Hurricane Sandy

Rockaway is ready to defend its status as the city’s most buzzworthy summer destination. Artisan boardwalk foods and 6 miles of beach lured more than 4 million people to the peninsula last year — a diverse combination of families, surfers and hipsters. This year could bring even larger crowds as a 2.6-mile stretch of boardwalk is restored for the first time since Hurricane Sandy ripped it apart almost three years ago. The iconic walkway with breathtaking ocean views is popular with visitors and a lifeline for year-round residents. “It connects all the neighborhoods,” said longtime resident and civic activist John Cori. “It is totally the backbone of the community.” ON JERSEY SHORE, TOWNS DIVIDED OVER HURRICANE SAND DUNES Crews were working furiously last week to finish the project, which connects previously built boardwalk islands at Beach 86th and Beach 97th Sts. Justin Harter enjoys a snack at the CitySticks concession stand on the Rockaway boardwalk as food stands get ready for beach season. City Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver said the portion connecting Beach 97th to Beach 107th should be finished by July 4. “People are really going to have a much better beach experience,” said Silver. “It’s a new design and it’s very attractive.” But while Cori and other local residents are happy to see progress, they are still frustrated the entire stretch a boardwalk will not be fixed until 2017. And Cori worries that many of the shorefront park amenities lost in the storm will never be replaced. The massive project, funded with $480 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, involves rebuilding the entire 5.5-mile stretch of boardwalk, replacing the wood with concrete and making it more resilient against future storms. A sand replenishment project, which closed off large Continue Reading

Slow start dooms Islanders as they fall to Hurricanes, 5-3

HURRICANES 5, ISLANDERS 3 It was a rare 5 p.m. puck drop at Nassau Coliseum on Saturday, so perhaps the Islanders thought their game started at seven. The Isles sleepwalked through their first two periods and fell, 5-3, to the last-place Hurricanes in a disappointing loss. Backup goaltender Chad Johnson, who played well in his previous four starts, allowed five goals on 41 Carolina shots. He didn’t have much help. “We didn’t play a full 60 (minutes),” Johnny Boychuk said. “We took probably half the game off and that’s what happens. We didn’t work hard enough.” Despite skating in slow motion, the Isles (41-21-2, 84 points) managed to find the scoreboard first on a transition wrist shot from Michael Grabner at 11:47. Even though Jay McClement would knot things for the Hurricanes at 17:41, the Isles had to be pleased with a 1-1 tie during the first intermission after being outplayed and outshot 18-9. But things unraveled quickly in the second. A Thomas Hickey interference penalty put the Isles down a man 58 seconds into the period. Just 28 seconds later, the Hurricanes took their first lead on a Justin Faulk power-play goal. McClement later scored his second of the game at 9:50 to put Carolina up, 3-1. Nikolai Kulemin appeared to give the Isles a shot of life at 15:11 with another transition goal, but the Canes would douse the home momentum yet again with goals from Brad Malone and a power-play score by Michal Jordan. By the end of the second period — a four-goal frame for Carolina — the Isles trailed, 5-2, and were booed off the ice.   John Tavares scored his 30th goal of the season at 9:35 of the third to cut the Isles deficit to 5-3. It also placed him in sole possession of the NHL lead in points with 65 (30 goals, 35 assists) with league-wide games to be played later Saturday night. But the Isles Continue Reading

Hurricane Sandy reconstruction will not finish for 36 months, leaving NYCHA developments waiting

Some construction funded by the record-breaking $3 billion Sandy FEMA grants won’t finish for 36 months — meaning NYCHA developments could go two hurricane seasons without the repairs, officials said Tuesday. “We’re going to get it done as quickly as possible,” said Mayor de Blasio. He announced the FEMA funding — first reported in the Daily News — at the Sandy-hit Red Hook East Houses in Brooklyn, along side Sen. Chuck Schumer. The money — the largest FEMA grant in history — goes towards 55 NYCHA buildings damaged by Sandy to pay for repairs and resiliency measures. Continue Reading

NYC settles lawsuit with disabled citizens over Hurricane Sandy-related food stamps they didn’t receive

The city has settled a lawsuit brought on behalf of disabled New Yorkers who said they were screwed out of Hurricane Sandy-related food stamps. The agreement filed in Manhattan Federal Court, which requires a judge’s approval, calls for the city to establish remote disaster benefit sites and set up a system for home visits by officials doling out the stamps during a disaster. Eligible New Yorkers also may reapply for the benefit. The suit, brought in 2012, pertained to the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or D-SNAP, a one-time benefit to people not on food stamps at the time of the storm. Continue Reading