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National Dine Out Day to Help New Jersey’s Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund

National Dine Out Day to Help New Jersey’s Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund

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Enjoy a meal to support communities in New Jersey affected by the storm

On June 19th, join the nation in dining for a good cause. Mary Pat Christie, New Jersey’s First Lady, is leading National Dine Out Day, which encourages people to dine at participating restaurants to support the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund.

Restaurants that participate will give part of their sales to organizations that help New Jersey communities affected by Hurricane Sandy, which impacted more than 140,000 small businesses when it came ashore last October. Thus far, the fund has collected over $34 million in donations and made $11 million in grants to help communities and businesses rebuild.

National chain restaurants such as Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Long Horn Steakhouse, Benihana, Haru, RA, Firebirds Wood Fired Grill, and Auntie Anne’s will be participating in this event, and select restaurants in twenty states will be providing more funds to the cause. Local eateries such as Café de Marco in Florida, Lombardi’s Pizza in New York, and Carlo’s Bakery in New Jersey are also supporting the fund.

There’s no better reason to dine out for the day. Those who don’t participate can still donate on the relief fund website.

Click here for a video about National Dine Out Day.

From Star Chefs to Food Trucks, Culinary New York Lends a Hand to Sandy Victims

• It wasn't just fire trucks, ambulances and ConEd mobiles that rushed to the scenes of Hurricane Sandy's power blackout zones. New York is home to an elite squadron of food trucks as well, which deployed en masse starting this past Friday to give away food in lower Manhattan, Staten Island, Red Hook, in Brooklyn, the Rockaways, in Queens, and New Jersey—a whopping 20,000 meals so far. With funding from JetBlue and the mayor's office, as well as $52,000 from online fund-raising drives, trucks like Cupcake Crew, Wafels & Dinges, Coolhaus, Milk Truck, Toum, Mike 'n Willie's, Frites n' Meats and many more have been cooking up a storm relief. When Unfiltered called up Cupcake Crew today, they were hard at work in the kitchen, preparing for yet another trip out to the affected coastal areas to cheer up lip-licking kids and National Guardsmen alike.

• Just days after the storm departed, NYC restaurants also got to work to put money in the hands of the disaster victims. Among the big boys, David Chang's Momofuku empire fired up three benefit events Friday, ranging from modest to lavish, which let diners of all means munch and donate to the Red Cross at the same time. Chang forked over all proceeds from lunch and dinner at his Má Pêche outlet, set up a pop-up collaboration between his Noodle Bar and Milk Bar in Brooklyn and teamed up with Daniel Boulud's Café Boulud (as the downtown Momofuku joints were still without power) for a six-course meal at $495 a head, all for disaster relief. Another high-wattage restaurateur, David Burke, picked up 1,000 pounds of Skuna Bay salmon and distributed it to New Jersey aid efforts this week he will donate a portion of proceeds from all Skuna Bay salmon dishes sold at his four NYC restaurants to the ongoing relief effort.

But even the littler fish in the New York restaurant pond have stepped up in the wake of Sandy. Five Leaves, in Brooklyn's Greenpoint neighborhood, gave 100 percent of its profits from last Friday to a local relief agency. Seersucker hosted an "Eat Pork, Help New York" rally, roasting a 175 pound Berkshire pig and selling the resulting thousand pulled-pork sliders for $10, all to the benefit of the Red Hook Initiative, which is providing aid in that neighborhood. Aldea hosted a benefit dinner for NYCFoodFlood, and B. Smith's Restaurant donated funds from its election viewing party to Sandy charities.

Diageo dropped off more than 80,000 bottles of water, plus two backup generators.

• For their part, global spirits, wine and beer company Diageo partnered with nonprofit humanitarian aid organization the Bridge Foundation to donate generators and enough bottled water to fill two and a half semi-trucks (84,960 bottles) to relief efforts at Newark, N.J.'s Gigi Foushee retirement home, where residents were without power for three days after the storm. The supplies powered an essential HVAC system, lights, ventilators, oxygen concentrators and elevators. Engine Company 16 firehouse, home to three fire boats crucial to rescuing stranded citizens, received another generator. The donations were made through Diageo’s "Spirit of the Americas" program.

Not to be outdone, another heavy hitter of wine and spirits, Constellation Brands, has pledged to match employee donations to the Red Cross two to one, up to $100,000, for storm aid. Employees have also been encouraged to turn out for blood drives and to donate non-perishable food, clothing, water and other essentials to Rochester General Hospital's InterVol service and the Sea Breeze Volunteer Fire Department these relief groups will transport the goods down to Brooklyn and Staten Island.

• Goya Foods teamed up with local organizations, including City Harvest, the Community FoodBank of New Jersey and the United Way of Hudson Valley to donate canned goods and hot meals to area shelters and soup kitchens. So far, they have donated over 300,000 pounds of food. The contributions are part of a larger ongoing charitable program called "Goya Gives," begun last year.

• And New York's culinary community continues to go to bat for hurricane victims, so there are plenty more opportunities to dine and donate. Alex Lapratt, Jean Georges' chef sommelier, is rallying sommeliers, chefs and their ilk in an effort to boost funds via an online fund-raiser, aptly titled America's Sommeliers & Chefs. The idea is to form a support group within the hospitality industry by word of mouth and industry connections for those suffering from Sandy's devastation on the East Coast. Industry leaders such as sommelier and importer Daniel Johnnes, the James Beard Foundation, and chef Marc Forgione have joined Lapratt in his hard work by reaching out to their own networks in the hospitality industry and asking individuals to donate to reach the charity's goal of $25,000. But anyone can donate, with the take going to the Red Cross. An incentive: If you give at least $25 before midnight Nov. 9, you're entered into a raffle for dinner for two at RN74 with wine pairings by Rajat Parr.

• A crack team of mixologists from NYC's chicest spots, like Dutch Kills, Death & Co., Clover Club and Flatiron Lounge, will convene for conviviality at Pegu Club in SoHo on Nov. 11, with each mix master offering a special cocktail for the occasion. Half the profits go to the Red Cross, the other half to a veteran bartender fighting a heart condition. Indeed, as anyone who finds a good one knows, bartenders are a generous lot generally: The U.S. Bartender's Guild members have been throwing parties around the country for the cause, with many in the New York chapter getting in the trenches of the most damaged zones to volunteer.

• Back in Brooklyn, if you have a heart of gold and a thirst for rum, the Bower Hill Society is the crowd to hang with, as they've brought in Bridget Firtle, distiller at the Noble Experiment, which focuses on locally grown, natural ingredients in its spirits. She'll be pouring her Owney's NYC Rum, at an event Nov. 13 for the benefit of the DUMBO Business Improvement District fund, a charity set up to support restaurants, shops and cultural venues in the DUMBO neighborhood that were impacted by the hurricane. There will also be a silent auction to raise more funds still.

• Finally, consider a fund-raising dinner at Tasting Table’s Test Kitchen on Nov. 14, with a menu that includes braised pig’s trotter stew, chicken Parmesan sliders and smoked trout salad. Tasting Table's executive chef Brendan McHale created the menu, which will be paired with custom cocktails. Tickets are $100, and the proceeds benefit the Food Bank for New York City's Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. Tasting Table will match the donation, and guests are also encouraged to also bring nonperishable food items, batteries, blankets and winter coats as well.

• In unrelated news, kitchen maestro Charlie Trotter closed down his eponymous Chicago restaurant in August, but many hoped that his sojourn into graduate studies might only be a brief sabbatical from the gourmet world. Even if that's the case, Trotter acolytes should no longer hold their breaths that a new Trotter's would open with a Grand Award-winning wine list off the bat: Christie's has announced it will be auctioning off the cream of Trotter's 7,000-bottle cellar on Nov. 16. The expected haul is over $1 million, which should be just enough to put Trotter through grad school. Unsurprisingly, the catalog trumpets all the grand old names, from Dom Pérignon to Lafite to Gaja to Harlan to Penfolds Grange and back again. But amid the obvious shining stars, there are a few special standouts exceptional for curiosity factor, bottle size or stratospheric price, including the 1992 Black and Blue, first wine of Manfred Krankl (estimated price: $800 to $1,200), a signed Nebuchadnezzar (15 L) of Kracher Grand Cuvée Trockenbeerenauslese No. 7 Nouvelle Vague 2005 from the late Austrian botrytis master ($1,000 to $1,500) and a Methuselah (6 L) of DRC La Tâche 1996 ($14,000 to $20,000), which probably holds about half that cru's yield for the vintage.

• Those plans to sell off the wine cellar of Charlie Trotter’s restaurant took a detour this week with the revelation that an entire pallet—amounting to 60 cases of wine—was apparently stolen en route from Trotter’s in Chicago to the auction house Christie’s in New York. Christie’s officials declined comment on the matter, explaining that an investigation was ongoing. Christie’s is proceeding with the scheduled sale of the rest of the Trotter collection, which amounted to 4,000 bottles originally. There will be a live auction Nov. 16 at Christie’s, supplemented by an online-only sale that will invite bids between Nov. 20 and Dec. 4. The estimated value of the entire collection is about $1 million. It’s not clear exactly which bottles are missing, but the collection amassed by the chef Charlie Trotter, who closed his eponymous restaurant in August, is reputed to be one of the best in the Midwest.

Post-Sandy survival guide: Elections, water emergency, power updates and more

Today is Election Day. If you don't know where to vote, text WHERE to 877877 or visit to learn your polling place.


A boil-water advisory was issued Monday night by Middlesex Water Co. to residents in Carteret, Edison, Highland Park, Metuchen, South Amboy, South Plainfield and Woodbridge after its plant lost power again.

The state Department of Environmental Protection has determined that a potential or actual threat to the quality of water exists. Therefore, the advisory says, until further notice, bring tap water to a rolling boil for one minute and allow to cool before using for consumption drinking, ice cubes, washing vegetables and fruit, and for brushing teeth.

The following steps are also recommended:

• Throw away uncooked food or beverages or ice cubes if made with tap water made after the time of the issuance of this advisory.
• Keep boiled water in the refrigerator for drinking.
• Rinse hand-washed dishes for a minute in diluted bleach (one tablespoon of household bleach per gallon of tap water) or clean your dishes in a dishwasher using the hot wash and dry cycle.
• Do not swallow water while you are showering or bathing.
• Provide pets with boiled water after cooling.
• Do not use home filtering devices in place of boiling or using bottled water.
• Use only boiled water to treat minor injuries.
• Individuals with compromised immune systems, infants, or the elderly may be at increased risk and should seek advice about drinking water from their health care providers.

General guidelines on ways to lessen the risk of infection by microbes are available from the EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline at (800) 426-4791.

Middlesex Water will be issuing updates, through media sources, municipal and health departments, the home page of its website at and through its Facebook and Twitter site. Customers seeking more information may call the company at (732) 634-1500.


By executive order, Gov. Chris Christie has declared a limited state of energy emergency and has implemented odd-even rationing for gasoline purchases in 12 counties.

• Odd-even fuel sales exist in Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Morris, Monmouth, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren counties.

• The final number in a license plate determines whether it is considered odd or even. So, if a plate reads “XYZ 12C,” it is considered even because the final number is a “2.” If you have a specialty license plate with no numbers, you should fill up on odd-number days. The rules also apply to out-of-state plates.

A List of Local Relief Funds for NYC Restaurant Workers

New York City restaurants and bars are still reeling weeks after Govern Andrew Cuomo’s state-mandated shutdown of dine-in services in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. In the days following the news, many restaurants have pivoted to delivery and takeout — while others have received funding from food relief efforts — but it’s nowhere near enough to sustain current staff levels, with some restaurants slimming their numbers by as much as 90 percent.

For the majority of the city’s restaurants, the only option left available has been to terminate the entirety of their staffs — sometimes by the thousands, sometimes by mass email — and encouraging workers to apply for state unemployment insurance. Most workers who have lost their jobs have also lost their primary source of income and their employer-sponsored health care with no end in sight.

New York City restaurants and bars are currently facing the largest disruption to the hospitality industry since major events like September 11, the 2008 financial crisis, and Hurricane Sandy. Below, we’re including an updated list of restaurants that have turned to the public to crowd-source funds to continue paying their staffs during this uncertain time. For a list of a national relief organizations, please see our related coverage.

Jersey Mike's "Month of Giving" Campaign 2013 Honored with Assembly Proclamation

Manasquan, NJ – Jersey Mike's Subs of Monmouth and Ocean Counties was presented with an Assembly Proclamation recognizing Jersey Mike's "Month of
Giving" Campaign 2013 at its corporate headquarters in Manasquan on March 19. Assemblyman Dave Rible, (R-30th), the Republican Conference Leader, arranged for the presentation which was made by his chief of staff Ryan Sharpe.

From coast to coast during the month of March,
customers are invited to come into their local Jersey Mike's restaurant to make a donation to that location's designated charity partner. The campaign will culminate in the nationwide event, Jersey Mike's "Day of Giving" on Wednesday, March 27 when 100% of the day's sales are donated to the local partner charity.

In Monmouth and Ocean counties the funds will benefit the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund Inc.

"Throughout my years living at the Shore, Jersey Mike's has been a stalwart of the community, helping individuals and charities with donations of subs, manpower, time
as well as sizeable monetary contributions," said David Rible Rible, a resident of Wall and a lifelong native of the Jersey Shore. "Today, through this proclamation,
we pay tribute to the great charitable example set by this organization and recognize their efforts to rebuild the Shore."

"We are very proud to receive this honor and even more proud of our franchise owners, team members,
community partners and customers that make 'Jersey Mike's Month of Giving' such an outstanding success. We hope all of our customers continue to support this
cause throughout the rest of March and especially come out on March 27 when 100% of the sales at Jersey Mike's Subs locations in Monmouth and Ocean Counties will go the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund Inc.,"
stated Peter Cancro, founder and CEO of Jersey Mike's.

Since 2010, Jersey Mike's franchisees and team members throughout the country, supported by its generous customers, have raised more than $5 million for
worthy local charities and distributed more than 500,000 free sub sandwiches to help numerous causes. One of the most successful fundraisers is Jersey Mike's Month of Giving. Last year, Jersey Mike's raised nearly $858,000
for 74 different charities for children nationwide. Now in its third year, it is looking forward to making the program bigger than ever.

The Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund Inc., a 501 (c) 3 independent non-profit organization, was created to help New Jersey rebuild following last October's devastating storm. Since its establishment, the Fund
has raised over $32 million from over 22,000 donors worldwide, to help those individuals, families and businesses affected by Sandy.

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New York City

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg signed an emergency order establishing an odd-even license plate system for gasoline and diesel purchases, beginning Friday, Nov. 9 at 6 a.m. License plates ending in an even number or the number “0” can make purchases of motor fuel on even numbered days licenses plates ending in an odd number, a letter or other character can make purchases on odd numbered days.

Check for the latest news from Mayor Bloomberg’s office. Governor Andrew Cuomo updates his website regularly with new announcements for the city and state.

Here is the most current list of overnight warm city shelters as well as corresponding bus pick-up locations to transport people to shelter. Daytime warming centers are open for roughly eight hours, allowing people to get out of the cold.

Bus service is offered from 4 to 9 p.m. to take people to warm shelters if they cannot get their own their own. The bus pickups are listed here.

On Wednesday, Nov. 7, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced an unprecedented partnership with the temporary housing website Airbnb, a company that links people looking for a place to stay with people who have room in their home to rent. The deal struck between the City and Airbnb means people can donate temporary housing and people displaced by Hurricane Sandy can search for housing for free online. Airbnb will insure the host as it always does, and the only requirement of those seeking shelter is that they have a credit card to verify their identity. Already 179 Airbnb members have already opened their homes for free.

If you would like to offer space in your home, click here.

If you need shelter, click here.

Food and Water:

Volunteers at the Coney Island food and water distribution site were organized by United Way of NYC. MetroFocus interviewed the nonprofit's president and CEO, Sheena Wright, about relief efforts on Nov. 8, 2012. MetroFocus/Christina Knight

The Food Bank of New York is distributing food via mobile distribution centers, Meals on Wheels is continuing to deliver food to the elderly and City Harvest is delivering food to soup kitchens and food pantries.

The city Department of Environmental Protection has set up free water-on-the-go stations across the city that are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Breezy Point, Queens
23 rd Street and 8 th Avenue, Manhattan
23 rd Street and 2 nd Avenue, Manhattan
14 th Street and 8 th Avenue, Manhattan
Houston Street and 6 th Avenue, Manhattan
Canal and Centre streets, Manhattan
Monroe Street, Manhattan

The Nov. 11 Veteran’s Day Parade will be a rally for storm victims. A coat drive for New York Cares will be held, and coats will be collected by marchers along the parade route and deposited in trucks in the parade. Coats will also be collected at hundreds of locations throughout the five boroughs including all NYPD Police Precincts and library branches in the New York Public Library, Queens Library and Brooklyn Public Library systems. Starting Nov. 15, drop-off locations will open at New York Penn Station, Grand Central Terminal (December only) and many other sites.

On Staten Island, one of the worst hit areas in the city, many businesses, community centers and places of worship are accepting donations for those who have lost homes or are without power.

A volunteer group from Congregation Beth Elohim in Park Slope, Brooklyn makes sandwiches for people staying in the shelter at the Park Slope Armory. Photo by Cindy Greenberg.

The New York Blood Center is in great need of blood. Locations: in Midtown at 601 Lexington (the Citigroup building), in the Upper East Side on 67th Street between First and Second Avenue, at the Elmsford Center in Westchester County and the East Fishkill and Kingston Center, both located in the Hudson Valley.

Medical Services:

Mobile medical vans that will provide medical care and distribute commonly prescribed drugs are now at several of the city’s Disaster Assistance Service Centers in the Rockaways and Coney Island, as well as two additional high-need locations in the Rockaways. The vans will also be on Staten Island on Tuesday.

– Queens Locations

Redfern Houses Playground 1462 Beach Channel Drive Redfern and Beach 12th Street
Hours: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

*Walbaums Parking Lot 112-15 Beach Channel Drive between Beach 112th/Beach 113th Streets
Hours: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

St. Frances de Sales 129-16 Rockaway Beach Boulevard
Hours: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.

– Coney Island Locations

*Coney Island – MCU Parking Lot 1904 Surf Avenue
Hours: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

* Far Rockaway – Fort Tilden Park Fort Tilden Park (closest end to Breezy Point) Beach Channel Boulevard
Hours: 10 a.m. -5 p.m.

*The city’s Federal Disaster Service Center are located in the same locations.

Other Federal Disaster Service Center locations:

Edgewater Firehouse Parking Lot, 1 Adee Place between 9th Avenue and Edge Street, Bronx: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Mount Loretto at 6581 Hylan Blvd. at Sharrotts Road, Staten Island: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Miller Field at 600 New Dorp. Lane at Weed Avenue, Staten Island: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Also see locations under Shelter, below, to inquire about volunteering there.

New York Cares or 212-402-1101
New York City Service
The United Way of New York City is coordinating volunteers through its Hurricane Sandy Recovery Page.

Coney Island is relatively accessible by public transportation and has need of volunteers and services as of Sunday evening. Ilma Joyner, president of NYCHA O’Dywer Gardens‘ tenants association, told MetroFocus the complex needed volunteer services and donations of warm clothing items, blankets, flashlights and batteries. Residents on Neptune Avenue in nearby Sea Gate were desperate for news of city support services, and whether generators would be made available. Cell phone reception is spotty in Sea Gate, but Gothamist reports that volunteers or donations for Sea Gate can contact community manager Tami Maldonado at (917) 549-9658.

The New York City’s Office of Emergency Management Animal Planning Task Force has set up a 24-hour hotline for evacuees who were unable to bring their pets with them to a shelter. Call 347-573-1561 for help. Also check #sandypets on Twitter.

NYC Parks suffered a lot of damage in Hurricane Sandy. See the links below to volunteer in the city’s parks.

Click here to volunteer in the Bronx
Click here to volunteer in Brooklyn
Click here to volunteer in Manhattan
Click here to volunteer in Queens

Hurricane Sandy Recovery: How to Help and Volunteer

NEW JERSEY - In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, many residents have been asking how they can help and/or volunteer to assist residents throughout New Jersey who are in need of power, shelter and food.

Governor Christie and First Lady Mary Pat Christie today announced the formation of the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund to help residents impacted by the recent superstorm that wrought damage and destruction in New Jersey and along the Jersey Shore earlier this week.

&ldquoAs recovery efforts continue, we know that even greater needs will become apparent for our families who have been impacted so deeply and extensively by this disaster,&rdquo Governor Christie said. &ldquoNew Jerseyans are not only tough and resilient &ndash as we&rsquove already seen powerfully through the storm and initial recovery period &ndash they are caring, generous and kind. Above all, we are a community and we take care of each other. As the recovery proceeds over the weeks and months, this fund will give us an avenue to collect and distribute those resources to our neighbors and communities and assist as many of our families as possible.&rdquo

A website for the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund is expected to be launched soon.

Donations to the fund can be sent to the address below:

Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund

New Jersey is recovering from the worst natural disaster in more than a century, and the Community FoodBank of New Jersey (CFBNJ) is critical to helping state residents affected by the devastation. The CFBNJ is currently distributing over 100,000 pounds of food daily to families displaced by Hurricane Sandy.

Whether you&rsquore in the area or not, there are many ways people can directly help those in their greatest time of need:

To donate funds:
o Visit and click on the &ldquoHurricane Relief&rdquo tab on the homepage
o Make a $10 donation by texting FEEDNJ to 80888
o Call (908) 355-3663 ext. 253
o Financial donations have the greatest impact on our ability to help New Jersey recover by allowing us to respond to specific needs.

To donate items:
o If you&rsquore in the area, you can donate food/grocery items, such as meals in a can, canned tuna, peanut butter, canned fruits, canned vegetables, canned soup, shelf-stable milk, cereal, baby food (no glass jars), and diapers to the Community FoodBank locations at 31 Evans Terminal, Hillside, NJ 07205 6735 Black Horse Pike, Egg Harbor Twp, NJ 08234
o You can donate items at MetLife Stadium between 2:30 &ndash 5:30 p.m. during this Sunday&rsquos New York Giants game

To volunteer:
o Visit for information

The food bank is working closely with New Jersey Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD), Red Cross and Salvation Army since last week's Hurricane Sandy warnings to prepare for and meet the needs of New Jersey residents affected by its devastation. CFBNJ is currently providing thousands of meals per day to displaced individuals and families.

Despite being without power for several days, the CBFNJ has sent truckloads of ready-to-eat meals and water to the Office of Emergency Management and shelters in Atlantic, Ocean, Somerset, Passaic, Essex, Middlesex, Hudson, Burlington, Monmouth, Bergen and Cape May counties. Blankets have been provided to those displaced by flooding in Moonachie and Little Ferry.

In light of the gas shortages, United Way advises residents to stay local and help neighbors in our northern New Jersey communities by sharing a warm meal or an outlet to charge a cell phone. Or register with the United Way Volunteer Link website at for formal volunteer opportunities with a local relief organization.

For those wishing to make a financial donation, there is the United Way Hurricane Sandy Recovery Fund (#sandyfund). Contributions to the fund will be used by local United Ways in 12 states, including New Jersey, to address hurricane recovery needs in communities that FEMA has declared disaster areas.

To make a donation online visit or you can make a $10 donation by texting the word RECOVERY to 52000.

Tips for interested volunteers:

·Do not self-deploy or begin a collection without registering or consulting with a reputable disaster relief agency.

Homeowners Hit By Sandy Get More Time To Appeal Settlements

Sandy survivors still battling over their flood insurance claims will now have more time to appeal their settlements.

In a bulletin issued yesterday FEMA announced it will extend for another six months the period for Sandy-impacted homeowners to file Proof of Loss forms, which are the first step in appealing a flood insurance settlement. The window after previous natural disasters has never been longer than a year, so this extension is an unprecedented move. It comes after pressure from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

Late last week, nearly two dozen Senators and members of Congress from New York and New Jersey -- including Senators Robert Menendez and Jeff Chiesa and Representatives Jon Runyan, Frank LoBiondo, Rob Andrews, Bill Pascrell and Rodney Frelinghuysen -- signed on to a letter to FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. In it, they argued that many of their constituents have been mired in bureaucratic red tape and are only just starting the recovery process, so they need more time to complete the paperwork.

&ldquoWhile we are aware that FEMA has the authority to approve on a case-by-case basis claims submitted after the one-year deadline,&rdquo the letter stated, &ldquowe believe that a blanket extension for every homeowner should be in place to ensure a fair and proper process for everyone. To deny these claims based purely on the timing of their paperwork pulls the rug out from underneath homeowners who are relying on their flood insurance policies to repair and rebuild their homes.&rdquo

According to FEMA &ndash which runs the National Flood Insurance Program -- 99 percent of all Sandy-related claims are now closed.

But the private insurance companies that manage the policies typically consider cases &ldquoclosed&rdquo after they&rsquove issued their payouts, even though policyholders often continue to file appeals. Indeed, a recent NJ Spotlight survey of people&rsquos experiences dealing with their flood insurance companies has so far yielded dozens of negative responses, with complaints ranging from lost paperwork to adjuster errors to insurance companies claiming that damage pre-existed the storm. While the results of the survey are in no way scientific, they offer compelling anecdotal evidence that even a year after Sandy, many problems persist.

New Jersey lawmakers contacted yesterday by NJ Spotlight applauded FEMA&rsquos move, with Senator Chiesa calling it a &ldquocommonsense extension&rdquo that will &ldquohelp New Jerseyans still struggling with the lengthy process of rebuilding.&rdquo

Senator Menendez issued a statement that he was pleased with the decision. &ldquoThis will give the victims hit the hardest by the storm enough time to provide the necessary documentation to prove their claim and get the money they&rsquore entitled to,&rdquo he wrote.

And Congressman Pascrell noted that "Many homeowners that were devastated by Sandy were only made aware of additional expenses once the rebuilding process started. This extension will provide families with the additional time needed to ensure a fair process in filing their flood insurance claims and receiving the full benefits they are entitled to," he said.

The memorandum applies to Sandy-impacted homeowners in all the affected states who suffered losses between October 25th and November 6th, 2012. FEMA is now giving them until the end of April and says it will monitor claim activity to determine whether further extensions may be warranted.

Glover EMTs help New Jersey victims of Sandy

The ruins of a house stand in stark contrast to the devastation that swept away entire communities along the Jersey Shore. "Scenes like that went on for miles and miles and miles," Mr. Gibson said. "I've never seen anything like it." Photo Courtesy of Chance Griffin The ruins of a house stand in stark contrast to the devastation that swept away entire communities along the Jersey Shore. “Scenes like that went on for miles and miles and miles,” Mr. Gibson said. “I’ve never seen anything like it.” Photo Courtesy of Chance Griffin

by Richard Creaser

copyright the Chronicle 11-14-2012

GLOVER — It was not the sort of homecoming that Dennis Gibson would have chosen as he returned to New Jersey last week, but the importance of that trip outweighed any concerns he may have had.

Mr. Gibson, along with fellow Glover Ambulance squad member Chance Griffin, traveled to the Jersey Shore to provide aid to communities battered by the passage of Hurricane Sandy. The two emergency medical technicians (EMTs) were part of the seven-ambulance Vermont Strike Team that deployed on the evening of November 6 to some of the worst damaged New Jersey communities.

The primary role of the squad was to provide relief to emergency crews that had been operating flat-out since Hurricane Sandy made landfall on October 30. The professionalism of their fellow EMTs left a powerful impression on Mr. Griffin.

“They acted as if nothing had happened,” Mr. Griffin told the Chronicle on Tuesday. “They went in and did their jobs as if their houses weren’t destroyed. Some of them were living in the fire station because they didn’t have a home to go back to.”

Even amidst the destruction the Glover EMTs were shown every conceivable courtesy and kindness. The level of appreciation extended by fellow emergency service providers and patients alike had a profound effect on both men.

“It’s not every day that you have people come up to you and say thank you for what you’re doing,” Mr. Gibson said. “Everyone there was just so grateful and appreciative of us.”

The Glover squad traveled to New Jersey and arrived first at the Meadowlands complex. The Meadowlands served as the main staging area for arriving emergency service crews. From there crews were assigned to various communities that required their assistance. During the five-day mission the Glover squad operated out of Keansburg and Atlantic Highlands, both located along the famed Jersey Shore.

The extent of the devastation that greeted them was both shocking and saddening. During their stay, the men toured affected areas including a brief visit to nearby Seabright.

“It’s just amazing the amount of damage a 12-hour storm can do,” Mr. Gibson said. “It will take Seabright probably five to ten years to get back to what it was. It was just incredible.”

Though fears of looting immediately followed the passage of Hurricane Sandy, the establishment of law and order in its wake helped prevent a repeat of the chaos that followed Hurricane Katrina, Mr. Gibson said. There was a strong police presence in every community. Deployments of National Guardsmen added to the sense of security in the affected areas.

“When we pulled up to the school where we were staying there were National Guardsmen and an armored car parked in the driveway,” Mr. Gibson said. “They wanted to know who you were and what you were doing there before they let anyone through. They learned from Katrina.”

The Meadowlands MetLife Stadium in New Jersey became the staging ground for ambulance services that rushed to respond to the disaster that followed Hurricane Sandy. Photo courtesy of EMS Task Force State of New Jersey

During their deployment, the Glover crew handled the kinds of 911 calls they might expect to handle back home in Glover. The major difference lay in the sheer volume of calls.

“One town we went into was maybe a square mile and that volunteer department handles 2,600 calls a year,” Mr. Griffin said.

“With Glover you handle 300 to 400 calls and you don’t see too many members riding on all of them,” Mr. Gibson said. “A crew we met out of Baltimore said they handled 8,000 calls a year. You just don’t see that kind of volume here.”

What took some getting used to was navigating traffic as the crew transported patients to and from the hospital. Though the physical distances were not as great as those the crew is used to, the time necessary to travel those distances remained comparable, Mr. Griffin said.

“The amount of juking and jiving you need to do getting around in traffic was unlike anything we do back here,” Mr. Gibson said. “The worse thing we have to do here is get through that one light at Sias Avenue in Newport.”

Another big difference was how the visiting ambulance teams communicated with one another. Because there were so many ambulances from so many squads, reconfiguring radios to ensure continued coverage was impractical. Instead, units relied on cell phones and texting to communicate with one another and their respective headquarters.

“Chance really stepped up on this because I’m a bit of an old-timer when it comes to this kind of stuff,” Mr. Gibson said. “I had never sent a single text before April of this year and now I’ve sent hundreds. I really learned a new appreciation for how well that can work in an emergency situation.”

Both men also spoke of the overwhelming feeling of pride when the departing ambulance squads formed up to leave the Jersey Shore. The departing ambulances were accompanied by dozens of emergency service vehicles from multiple departments with their lights flashing.

“It’s not something you’ll ever forget,” Mr. Griffin said.

“Everywhere we went people came out to stand by the road and wave and holler their thanks,” Mr. Gibson said. “You don’t normally get that kind of response for doing the job you’ve been trained to do.”

Chance Griffin (left) and Dennis Gibson of Glover Ambulance provided relief for New Jersey EMTs, many of whom have worked non-stop since the hurricane struck on October 30. Photo Courtesy of Chance Griffin

What made the entire trip possible was the strong sense of cooperation and fellowship both within the Glover Ambulance Squad and between the state of Vermont and the state of New Jersey. The first request for assistance came out of New Jersey at 11 a.m. on November 6 requesting up to 25 ambulances and crews. By 5 p.m. New Jersey had adjusted the request to include as many ambulances as could be ready to roll as quickly as possible, Glover Ambulance Chief Adam Heuslein said.

“By 6 o’clock we had the bus packed and rolling,” Mr. Heuslein said. “It was the first big test for our new ambulance.”

Mr. Heuslein extended a warm thanks to Northeast Kingdom Balsam and Windshield World for permitting Mr. Gibson and Mr. Griffin time off to deploy to the Jersey Shore. The cooperation of employers is a critical component to the smooth operation of a volunteer service like Glover Ambulance, he said.

“I would also like to thank the other members of Glover Ambulance for stepping up and covering the shifts for Chance and Dennis allowing them to go,” Mr. Heuslein said. “It was because of their efforts that we were able to maintain coverage and let Chance and Dennis go down to New Jersey. At no point was the town of Glover without ambulance coverage. It really was a team effort.”

The dedication of their fellow EMTs and the bonds Mr. Gibson and Mr. Griffin formed with them has left the men with an urge to provide as much help as they can. As a result the Glover Ambulance Squad is exploring the possibility of hosting a fund-raising effort to benefit the EMTs and communities hit by the storm.

“A lot of these guys and their families lost everything,” Mr. Heuslein said. “So we want to try and help them out even as they help the other people in their community.”

The experience that the two men are bringing home is an invaluable one for both the squad and Vermont’s emergency responders, Mr. Heuslein said. It was the first real test of Vermont’s Strike Team system developed by the Vermont Department of Health and Vermont Emergency Management.

“For something that sat on a back shelf since Katrina and with changes in administration in between, the system worked really well,” Mr. Heuslein said. “This experience makes the Strike Team system better and our own squad better for being a part of it.”

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Watch the video: New Jerseys First Lady Discusses Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund (May 2022).