The Record: Nearly $750K in Sandy Rebuilding Grants Coming to Bergen County
Harvey Lipman | The Record
Two major grants from the New Jersey Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund will bring nearly $750,000 into Bergen County to repair homes damaged by last October's superstorm.
The Volunteer Center of Bergen County is getting $400,000 to pay for the removal of mold from between 100 and 200 homes in Little Ferry and Moonachie. Another non-profit, Rebuilding Together Bergen County, will receive $345,000 for reconstruction work at a few dozen houses in those towns.
The two charities said the fund, headed up by first lady Mary Pat Christie, notified them of the new grants Wednesday.
"The money mostly will be used to pay for mold-removal contractors," Janet Sharma, executive director of the Volunteer Center, said of that agency's allocation. The center will administer the grant for the Bergen County Long Term Recovery Committee — a coalition of non-profit, government and civic groups working to rebuild homes damaged by the storm.
"We have to get the mold out before any rebuilding can be done," Sharma said. The recovery committee has already identified more than 90 homes that need mold removal, she said, adding, "We know there are more than that."
Most of the homeowners are still living in the mold-infested houses, leaving them susceptible to lung infections and other health complications, she said.
"They may be living on the second floor because the first floor is uninhabitable," Sharma noted. "In some cases the mold is in the basement, but in most we're talking about living areas."
Gretchen Viggiano, executive director of Rebuilding Together, said that organization will use its grant to pay for supplies, equipment and some professional contractors in the course of repairing homes in Little Ferry and Moonachie, two of the hardest-hit communities in the state.
The non-profit uses mainly volunteer labor, although it has hired a project manager and a couple of construction supervisors to oversee the repairs of nine homes.
"We're hoping to be able to repair 20-, 30-plus homes with the grant," Viggiano said. The organization serves low-income families, veterans, people with disabilities, senior citizens and families with children.
Rebuilding Together is holding its annual "rebuilding day" April 27. Anyone interested can sign up by calling 201-447-8886 or visiting its website, rebuildingtogetherbergen.org.