Wendy is one of hundreds of New Jersey homeowners who has benefitted from the Gap Funding Initiative (GFI), a $16.4 million program co-funded by the American Red Cross and the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund.
As Superstorm Sandy came ashore in Manahawkin, the waters flooded the lagoon-front community where Wendy and her husband lived. The couple stayed for the storm, boarding the windows and stacking their belongings on top of furniture.
“The lagoon came up like a bathtub, very gently,” says Wendy. “And then the surge came down the street.” Water entered the one-story home from both directions, rising to almost two feet. The resulting damage forced the couple to relocate to temporary housing.
Though eligible for $150,000 from the State of New Jersey’s Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) program, Wendy needed additional funding to cover all of the rebuilding costs. Wendy learned of GFI in her local newspaper and called New Jersey Community Capital (NJCC) immediately.
The Gap Funding Initiative is administered by NJCC and provides assistance of up to $20,000 to eligible homeowners who are participating in the State of New Jersey’s RREM program, but still have rebuilding costs they cannot afford.
GFI launched in October 2013 and funds have been committed to more than 700 homeowners, over 70% of whom are low-to-moderate income households. In many cases, like Wendy’s, these extra funds from the GFI program have helped New Jersey families participating in the RREM program fill the gap between available funding and the cost of construction, and have been the key difference between homeowners returning to their home and their continued displacement.
With the extra boost from the GFI program, Wendy and her husband returned home for the holiday season—26 months after Hurricane Sandy.
“The $20,000 from GFI was a godsend,” says Wendy. “Thank you to all the groups and donors who are helping me and my neighbors return home.”
SUPERSTORM SANDY launched the largest U.S. response by the American Red Cross in more than five years. The Red Cross provided months of emergency relief to people whose lives were disrupted by the storm. The massive disaster relief effort spanned across multiple states and was powered by more than 17,000 trained Red Cross workers from all over the country – 90 percent of them volunteers.
The Red Cross Move-In Assistance Program helped thousands of the hardest-hit families whose primary homes were destroyed or made uninhabitable and who needed help relocating or rebuilding. The program provided more than $32 million to more than 5,100 households throughout the affected region.
Recovery from such a massive storm requires the involvement of many organizations. The Red Cross continues to work with nonprofit partners to help people and communities rebuild and recover from the damage and devastation from Superstorm Sandy and has awarded more than $91 million in funding, including the Gap Funding Initiative, to support critical recovery services for Sandy-affected families and communities.
The work of the Red Cross and partners that it supports with grants is seen in the recovery of people such as Wendy and her husband, who have been able to move back into their renovated home in New Jersey.