New Jersey's RREM (Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation, and Mitigation) program, instituted with federal funds after Hurricane Sandy, is supposed to provide state oversight of money awarded to homeowners for repairs to storm-damaged houses. That's why homeowners had the option of going through the state agency to contract the work on their homes, rather than have control over the money themselves and hire a contractor on their own.
Under this so-called "Pathway C," state is also supposed to supervise the work. But it doesn't always happen that way. Case in point: Robin Buck's house in Long Branch, New Jersey. The Asbury Park Press has the story (see: "Nightmares come true: RREM contractor left home to rot," by Russ Zimmer).
"Buck, 34, left his family's home in Long Branch to a contractor in the Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) program in November," the paper reports. "The state-assigned contractor not only failed to lift the home as promised, but also neglected to winterize the property — leading to at least $14,000 in damages, according to one estimate. Buck had already spent $42,000 in 2014 restoring the first floor of his home after Sandy."
"Buck said he considered himself 'the luckiest man on the face of the Earth' when he was accepted into the RREM program, but that opportunity backfired," the paper reports. "Seneca-SmartJack, his RREM contractor, took the keys to his perfectly liveable $189,000 home on Nov. 1. Six months later, the contractor relinquished it with so much new damage that construction officials talked about knocking it down and starting over."
According to the Asbury Park Press, Buck followed instructions by moving out, disconnecting his utility service, and handing the keys over to the state-hired contractor. Seneca-SmartJack was supposed to drain the home's pipes, the report says — but did not. So that winter, the pipes froze, burst, and leaked. And with the power off, the home's crawlspace sump pump didn't operate. Buck says that water pooling under the house has damaged the foundation.