Over nearly four-and-a-half years, less than two-thirds of homes considered “substantially damaged” during Superstorm Sandy have been rebuilt or fully repaired, data from Toms River Township shows.
Toms River officials compiled the data as part of this year’s budgetary process, which recognizes an $800 million deficit in the township’s ratable base still remains, leading to struggles in closing the budget gap now that storm recovery programs have ended. Most of the lost property values stem from damage to the barrier island neighborhoods and, to a lesser extent, mainland bayfront neighborhoods.
In a report recently issued by the township, of the 3,795 homes that were considered substantially damaged – losing at least 51 percent of their value – 2,362, or 62 percent, have been completed. What makes the situation even worse is that of the remaining homes, there are few prospects of rebuilding in the short-term, which will lead to budgetary trouble for, potentially, several years to come.
“What we’re finding is that these are the second homeowners who didn’t have insurance, didn’t qualify for any of the programs, and they’re holding back because the values are going up,” said Township Administrator Paul Shives.
Shives said in many cases, secondary homeowners who cannot afford to rebuild their homes are playing a waiting game – holding onto their empty lots (or damaged homes) until land values peak.
“We’re getting better, and I think the Army Corps product will be the watershed event,” he said, that will spur land values to increase since the island and bayfront areas will be better protected from breaches like the one at Mantoloking that was responsible for much of the flooding seen during Sandy.
In other areas of recovery, the township is doing better. When it comes to demolition permits, 93 percent have been completed, and 76 per cent of those who applied for permits to build new homes have done so. There are currently 450 homes under construction and 329 homes that are in the midst of elevating.
In all, Shives said, about 10,000 properties were impacted in one way or another by the storm.