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South Amboy Sandy Victims Still Waiting

Residents Tell Their Personal Stories

By Beverly Samuelson

SOUTH AMBOY — The storm hit on October 29, 2012; it is now April 29, 2013, and the residents of Rosewell Street and Augusta Street in South Amboy, are still waiting for answers from Mayor Fred Henry on what is going to be done to give the homeowners in the devastated area relief.

Many residents gathered on Sunday April 28 for a neighborhood meeting, to discuss the upcoming Special Business meeting that will take place on May 1st at city hall. The residents feel they were forgotten and abandoned by the city officials and the Mayor. Resident Colleen Kenny’s home was demolished because it was completely destroyed. She is still paying a mortgage and taxes on a home that no longer exists. Colleen is a single mother and along with her children are in a FEMA apartment; everything they owned is gone.

Kimberly Kenny a resident on Rosewell Street has no foundation left on her home; the walls are gone on one side and because she was up-to-date and always paid her mortgage on time, her mortgage lender Bank of America will not offer any help. She was told if her mortgage was in arrears they could help. Kimberly has lost everything and is still paying for a house she can no longer live in, because it is condemned and she is still paying South Amboy property taxes on same.

Colleen Kenny standing in the empty lot that once held her house. *Photos by Aaron Beers

Juan Gonzalez of Augusta Street is another victim of the horrors of Hurricane Sandy. His homeowners insurance company The Philadelphia Constitution has offered no solution and has not paid on the claim. He and his family are living in a FEMA rental in Keyport.

Every story is the same, the residents are basically homeless. FEMA will pay rent while you are displaced but there is a time limit, then you are on your own. The residents have contacted Governor Christie’s office and they have filed the proper paper work for relief. They were also told to go to their city officials to get information on means that are available to them through various programs. The Governor’s office is working hard to get every Sandy victim back into homes where they can start to live again. During the storm and after the residents met with Councilwoman Christine Noble who worked relentlessly to help each and every resident in the area. She overextended herself and did what she could to help these residents. Unfortunately Mayor Fred Henry did not pursue the many avenues available to the residents for aid. Their calls to his office went unanswered.

Resident Andrew Horezga asked Business Administrator Camille Tooker at a council meeting what the city is doing to help the residents and her reply to him was that she is “trying to understand what the residents are going through”. Andrew stated, with that comment the meeting was closed and no one could ask more questions. This was in February and the residents have heard nothing from city hall or Mayor Fred Henry since.

The residents of the flooded area feel the City of South Amboy is not supporting any of the victims and that they are left to fend for themselves in this tragedy. Andrew stated that municipalities were to start 501C3 funds. South Amboy did start the fund and the funds are being filtered through St. Mary’s Church. To date residents have not received any information on the fund, how to file a claim to the fund, or who to contact. Residents did fill out a form for funds however the Horezga family did not receive anything from the fund that the City of South Amboy handled. Andrew Horezga would like to know who made the decision on the families that would get help and what was the criteria for getting the help from the city, and who in the city decided WHO would get the help?

There have been several fund raisers that donated to the victims and they are all extremely grateful for the residents, the First Aid, the Fire Companies, the Police Department, and all the organizations that have helped them. The question the residents still have is “Why did the mayor and city administration abandon us during and after this catastrophic event?”

Mary Horezga said, “The Mayor and City Administration left us without hope and dignity. We are all taxpayers and deserve an answer from our elected officials.” We just want to know where did all the funds go?” Where can we get help? Why are we being left in the dark and forgotten?

Hopefully at the Special Meeting on May 1st at city hall these victims will get answers to many troubling questions. The horror and devastation that they were all subjected to is unfathomable. To watch everything you own destroyed in a huge wave of water and there is nothing you can do to stop it.

Rosewell and lower Augusta Street look like a ghost town at night. There are no lights or people around. It truly gives you an eerie feeling. Let’s hope these neighbors get relief soon and get their lives back to normal. In five months it will be a year since the great storm hit. For most, the only interruption they had was no electric for ten days, for these fellow South Amboyans it was their worst nightmare.

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