Stop FEMA Now Founder Fears Middle Class Exodus From Jersey Shore

Residents rally outside the Sandy-ravaged Surf Club in Ortley Beach

On any given day or night in the past, Joey Harrison's Surf Club parking lot on Sixth Avenue in Ortley Beach would be packed with cars.

But that was before Oct. 29, 2012. There is no parking lot left. And soon the Surf Club will be a memory. Superstorm Sandy took care of that.

Two oceanfront homes battered by Sandy served as a backdrop for the latest meeting of the grassroots group Stop FEMA Now. The meeting was held in the Ortley Beach section of Toms River - the spot many consider the epicenter of devastation in Ocean County.

Stop FEMA Now founder George Kasimos pointed to the pale-yellow house knocked off its foundation, as seagulls wheeled overhead in a cerulean sky. The Atlantic Ocean roared beyond the new dunes.

"Six months," he said disgustedly. "And this has been what's accomplished by FEMA. Six months."

State officials need to take the lead in obtaining easements from homeowners, so dunes can be bulked up, Kasimos said.

"There was a big sea change when we saw Gov. Christie take the lead in obtaining easements," he said. "Much better for New Jersey, rather than individual towns. It seems to me the state is taking a more active part."

"Without those dunes, Ortley Beach can never come back," said one man, a member of the Ortley Beach Voters and Taxpayers Association.

Kasimos and Stop FEMA Now members are on a mission. They want to dump the Biggert-Waters Act of 2012 and raise the dunes up and down the Jersey coast.

"We have a few hundred here," Kasimos said, gesturing towards the crowd. "The rest are going to come. They know what zone they are in. We have almost 4,000 people on Facebook. We need more."

"FEMA needs to get it right and they need to get it right right now," he said. "We need to make the barrier island a barrier."

Both Republican state Assemblymen David W. Wolfe and Gregory P. McGuckin said they would push for dune replenishment.

"You can help us by keeping going," Wolfe said. "We live here. We have a stake in our environment. We need your help. We really need a lot more help. We have to really keep the pressure up."

Years ago, some elected officials in Northern Ocean County towns decided not to opt for dune replenishment, Wolfe said.

"They chose not to have the dunes rebuilt," he said. "We are not going to let that happen again."

"The first question is whether the legislature will even vote on the dunes," McGuckin said. "We don't set the agenda. The 9th and 10th district are prepared to support that type of legislation."

Kasimos also blasted FEMA for not providing enough support for owners with secondary homes damaged by Sandy.

Second homeowners should have the same right as primary homeowners. You're not a second class citizen in my eyes."

"We are all devastated," said one man who has a second home. "I have an 800-square-foot bungalow. I worked my butt off. They will force the middle class out of their houses. This is ridiculous. It's a crime."

Money from the FEMA's highly competitive Hazard Mitigation Grant program will not be available for at least six more months and perhaps as long as 24 months, Kasimos said.

"Do you really need an agency to tell us this house is gone?" he said, pointing to the yellow house. "We are not even close. 187 days. Our struggles are just beginning. This is what we are going to go through for the next several years."

Both Democratic Senators Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez voted in favor of the Biggert-Waters Act, which will raise flood insurance premiums 25 percent a year over the next four years, Kasimos said.

"I think at some point we have to start calling out some of our elected officials," he said. "How often since Sandy has Senator Menendez been down at the Jersey Shore?"

"He's in the Dominican Republic," one woman in the audience quipped.

Seaside Park resident Faith Ligouri - the former director of the Ocean County Department of Human Services - said according to FEMAs advisory base flood elevations, half of her house is in a V zone, the other in an A zone.

"I don't know how to raise half a house," said Ligouri, who penned a now well-know letter entitled "Homeless in Seaside Park."

South Seaside Park resident James Fulcomer said the state must grant easements for Island Beach State Park, so the Army Corps of Engineers can include the park dune in replenishment.

"A DEP spinster claimed it was just a washout and it had no impact," Fulcomer said. "You tell that to the people whose homes were flooded. We need it all the way along the barrier island."

Kasimos had an ominous message for the crowd.

"Oh, and hurricane season is also coming," he said.


F-TR May 06, 2013 at 01:22 PM
I noticed High Dune Partners are listed. That's a joke.
Squandered Youth May 06, 2013 at 02:48 PM
The StopFEMANow members with a taste for hydrology might want to the story in this weekend's Asbury Park Press on projected sea level increase. Some of the researchers sounded reasonable and suggested some variation of "wait and see" results, but the general tenor of the article was that FEMA is understating the problem: the tide is coming in and the people should get out. Most of the posts there to date have been of the "nature always wins" and "what is the harm of being careful?" variety. There is no discussion in the article or the posts that the "harm in being careful" is that a lot of us will lose what we have for no real reason. Rather than posting back and forth at each other, we should spend more of our on-line energy discussing the real world cost of the FEMA approach with people who read articles like the one in the Asbury Park Press.
Charles W. Bogert May 06, 2013 at 03:12 PM
Caviat emptor!!
Spooner May 06, 2013 at 03:28 PM
Well I posted some interesting reading on FEMA put out by the GAO above...wonder how may are just going to read the middle link article and discuss that report. Sorry to say it: but you'd had people in this state that have been milking the tax payers for decades, with pre FIRM SHFA properties way under(40-45%) full risk insurance premiums, while collecting for repeated damages too. Then you had people who sold their homes with no insurance to others who secured mortgages who then obtained insurance for these homes in the SHFA. Then you had areas that were not in SHFA , that later on were incorporated into an expanded SHFAs', that were also pre built FIRM, and got added to the ever growing taxpayer's burden. So instead of demolishing or raising these older homes. . .the band kept playing on.
F-TR May 06, 2013 at 03:31 PM
The article also said ' we can keep up with the water by replenishing beaches, using bulkheads, and employing other engineering methods'. That's DUNES ! This problem is just not in N.J. Its the entire east coast. Where are all these people going to move to like some suggest? Most all of the coastal states will have no economy if they do not keep up with beach repair. People on the mainland just see their tax dollars being spent. The big picture is, everyone benefits from the beach whether you go or not.
grace May 06, 2013 at 03:45 PM
if i had a billboard i would donate it to you! good job mangino
Sue May 06, 2013 at 03:51 PM
FEMA says "PAY or go away"
Raine May 06, 2013 at 05:03 PM
For all of those people who feel second home owners are wealthy. Think again. We bought when homes were 25,000. We are not asking for handouts. We are asking that we be allowed the same opportunities to obtain loans at lower rates to repair our homes since we are not entitled to FEMA although we should be...Our small 780 square foot bungalow obtained $100,000 in damages. and insurance offers $50,000. Tell me how this is fair!! We have raised our families, they have worked summer jobs, We pay taxes just like first homeowners. This home has kept our FAMILY VALUES. No in our 60's we need to remortgage to rebuild.. Like I said we are not asking for sympathy, just FAIRNESS!!
shorefriend May 06, 2013 at 06:15 PM
I'm a primary owner in Ortley and while I feel the pain of the 2nd homeowner with not getting the same benfits as a tax payer as I did. Where do we draw the line? Does this mean millionares who can own multiple rental and personal properties would be eligible for FEMA benefits for each piece of property . How do you distinguish? What is fair and what becomes the raping of the "tax dollars". Tread lightly on this, if the 2nd, 3rd or however many property owners become eligibel where do you stop? It's a tough decesion but on the other hand 2nd homeowners pay taxes too. It's one of those things becarefull what you wish for kind of things!
Squandered Youth May 06, 2013 at 07:00 PM
I've read the GAO reports. The scariest is the one on FEMA management. FEMA is so overhwelmed and preoccupied with disaster response it does not have the human capital or interest to deal with anything else, like the NFIP. It is very possible that FEMA could - and not notice- independently draw maps and set premiums in a way that raises six times as much money as it needs. It's that bad. I agree with your main point it is pointless to advocate repeal of Biggert-Waters without a realistic plan to replace it. Not all of B-W is bad, at least in theory. B-W has a rational plan to cut out repetitive loss claims that are a major drain on the NFIP. The other drain is subsidies, which B-W takes care of, too. 75% of us do not "milk the taxpayer" (as the NFIP pays the Katrina debt, it's actually other insureds that get milked) on subsidies. Phasing them out could be swallowed IF the resulting actuarial premiums were not so high, but the new premiums are unaffordable and unjustified. There should not be a need for 600%+ increases on top of phasing out subsidies and repetitive losses. Even the Katrina debt (an unfair burden on current insureds) does not explain this. It's interesting that, with the new maps, all homes built to pre 2013 elevations are now effectively "pre-FIRM." The fairness reasons for treating older homes differently now apply equally to every Shore property.
BillT May 06, 2013 at 07:31 PM
I agree too many of them get comfortable they need to get 8 years then return to their jobs that they came from and go back to their town they lived in and become a regular person....both Senate and House of Rep needs to be cleaned out too many Grey headed people life long members there for the ride not for the people who put them there...CLEAN HOUSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! get them back to reality..they all need to be brought back to reality......
John May 06, 2013 at 07:37 PM
The assistance that FEMA gives out is a form of public assistance, like welfare or food stamps, it's meant to be a last resort. Should all people get welfare and food stamps too? There is a law that prevents second homeowners from receiving the assistance, quit blaming FEMA and change the law!
John May 06, 2013 at 08:36 PM
Fire and tornado insurance isn't subsidized by the government, (taxpayers) like NFIP. You pay full price for it just like flood insurance soon will have to.
Green Eyed Lady May 06, 2013 at 08:46 PM
Will this ever end?
anonymous May 06, 2013 at 09:18 PM
How about that digital billboard on rt 72 in manahawkin going into the island on the way to lbi How much would that be. ??
Cherry Quay resident May 06, 2013 at 09:50 PM
FEMA was established to assist in disasters, NOT create disasters. The day after the storm I started to demo and move out damaged furniture, appliances etc... I predicted that I'd be back to "normal" by May 15th. Well, the house is basically back to normal, BUT the stress about FEMA maps and to find out (in December) about the Biggert Waters Act is worst than the reconstruction. People DON'T get it!!!! Biggert Waters Act is WRONG and must be repealed. Listen to the comments in this posting; people are suffering and CAN NOT move forward unless something is done about the Biggert Waters Act and the FEMA maps. Forget about the voodoo science that Al Gore is stating; let's move ahead and get back to NORMAL!
Cherry Quay resident May 06, 2013 at 10:03 PM
In summary. Stop FEMA now
stretch113 May 07, 2013 at 01:05 AM
WOW! I just got a chance to read all the comments, ideas and B__ches about how your all getting 'screwed-over' by FEMA and other 'do-nothing' agencies. ALAS! wake up people, one of you was right, the middle class is leaving the area . . . and fast. Was lucky to sell my house just prior to SANDY and now have moved where we are still 15 minutes to the ocean. Our home insurance [with flood premium] is now $1,360 @ year. Our vehicle insurance on truck, car and motorcycle has gone down 28% for same coverage, the deduction for STATE income tax has now been eliminated and currently get the first $50,000.00 of assessed value taken OFF my billing, having gone from $6,200.+ R.E. taxes @ yr. to $2,350.00 for a NEW 2011 storm code constructed home. When are you people going to wake-up???? What fools you mortals be . . . Get out now while you still have some money in the bank ..... next thing will be FEMA saying 'NO HELP' as you have too much in the bank . . . . It's coming . . . . IF you don't, best get a good jar of Vaseline, your all going to need it!
F-TR May 07, 2013 at 02:34 AM
Gee.............your my hero. Wait until you get your next flood ins. bill. You haven't run far enough.
taxed-out-the-wazoo May 07, 2013 at 02:58 AM
Hi-Yeah, it was mentioned above. It seems odd that the alleged rescue to FEMA focuses on flood - not mudslides, wildfires, blizzards, volcano eruptions, avalanches, tornadoes,quakes & other nat'l diseasters. The West Coast is affected by the BW Act, too. Anyone near water is including (oceans, lakes (including the great lakes), rivers, creeks, tributaries, etc.). It's about 50% of our country & Alaska/Hawaii (not including those affected by random heavy rainfall/flooding). This Bill (Law) was not well thought out and we, the voters, taxpayers, MUST be focusing on the seats in Congress then getting this repealed/amended. NJ has many water ways surrounding it (Del River, Hudson River, etc). This affects the entire state. So, not sure why the state politicians didn't get in front of this either. While they never expected their state to be the test case like other states affected by the timing of Sandy/1st diseaster after the entry of the Bill, surely, they thought that NJ had a high probability of affected by BW Act at some point. For some, this is their first (and hopefully only) claim with NFIP. And, those insured should not be in the mix at all for their first claim. It should be for repetitive claims. And, this affects the insured vs. those who are not and rec'd funds. Sadly, it seems that we/taxpayers have spent more time on analyzing and finding some of the flaws with this Bill/Act than Congress. Hence the problem.
Green Eyed Lady May 07, 2013 at 05:23 AM
@ awesome John
Green Eyed Lady May 07, 2013 at 05:27 AM
That was a bit harsh.
Joey May 07, 2013 at 05:41 PM
Yes, pay for your own flood insurance, don't expect to be subsidized by others.
john doe May 07, 2013 at 06:55 PM
your an A-hole for posting peoples address, go ahead and post yours up too.
proud May 07, 2013 at 07:18 PM
oh john doe, the names and addresses of these selfish folks have been posted on the Township of Long Beach website for weeks and weeks. The gentleman here is merely displaying information that the public has been privy to for quite some time now. I anxiously await the same action from the barrier island to the north. In other words, I am very interested in who it is that is putting myself and others in harm's way.
taxed-out-the-wazoo May 08, 2013 at 04:27 AM
Not sure what John means. I already pay for Flood insurance and pay for ANOTHER policy for Fire/Tornado/Wind and another for umbrella coverage....and taxes. Clearly, I, like others, am not looking for any subsidy - - -hence the multiple insurance policies. But, because I do pay for insurance, I expect to be able use it when needed and not be penalized for doing so. And, after almost 20 yrs...this was the first (and hopefully only) time I have. Not sure this should be considered a hand out. Have YOU ever made an insurance claim? Would you expect to be penalized for something you could not control? This is not like a broken sidewalk that was ignored by the homeowner. This was a NATURAL diseaster; kinda like the blizzard that affected many years go (people had roofing claims, wind damage, etc.). Btw - Don't remember anyone begrudging victims of it....a NATURAL diseaster/occurrence....which required funds from FEMA/DC, too....recall?
anonymous May 08, 2013 at 02:23 PM
Seems like the elite are going to be the only ones who will be able to afford a house at the jersey shore. I sure am going to miss living near real people who saved up most of their lives to afford the shore life dream. By the way to my new neighbors I will key your Mercedes every time you park your car at wawa lol --anonymous
John Eric Mangino May 08, 2013 at 06:33 PM
Im preety public here on the bay why would I Include mine own name on list that shows selfless Beach holdouts im fighting to clean the bays so people just like you can enjoy it again .. I probably pick up more garbage that floats in from LBI than anyone . Im lucky I live in a town that sees it role of helping us get the waterways clean . The point is all this garbage decks chairs boats garbage cans are not ours . Ive been in mud boots for six months . if im a A hole for trying to get these holdouts to that have been hiding from the public eye so be it . These names have been public for weeks I was asked to share them ... I have no problem you want meet me . email me sailorsforsandy@gmail.com I be happy to meet with you and discuss my grous plans and perhaps you will realize we need the dunes we all do and ocean front homeowners need to join in the fight against mother nature ,
grace May 08, 2013 at 09:38 PM
john eric those names are public knowledge..you just happen to know how to get them...applaud you for being so tech savvy....heard tr mayor gave out names of ortley hold outs is that true..couldnt believe anyone in ortley wouldnt sign that
Spooner June 10, 2013 at 02:51 AM
"Stop Fema Now" on Huffington Post... http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/09/flood-insurance-costs-sandy_n_3412062.html


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