As Debbie Fortier stood listening to Gov. Chris Christie on Monday morning explain the state's new $100 million home elevation grant program, she could not wait to get home to file her application.
Fortier's Monterey Drive home was completely destroyed when superstorm Sandy made landfall Oct. 29. At first, Fortier and her family stayed with friends, living in their basement. Now, her family rents a house across the street from where their house once stood.
"Every little bit helps at this point, we are just thankful that he (Christie) came here to help us,'' the 53-year-old Fortier said, after leaving Christie's announcement on Valencia Drive.
The governor announced the new hazard mitigation program that could provide up to $30,000 for homeowners to elevate their existing single-family homes to meet new flood code standards. Watch the video above to hear details about the program and residents' reaction to it.
"This program is a critical component of my administration's efforts to protect lives and property by making flood-prone areas of the state stronger and more resilient," Christie said. "Elevation will literally raise these houses out of harm's way of potential flooding, and is an important step in preventing and mitigating damage from future storms."
The program is limited to primary homes in the Sandy-impacted counties of Atlantic, Bergen, Cape May, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean and Union.
"We need to adjust to this now. We've gotten the devastating effects of Sandy. It has hit all of us and we are still feeling it,'' Christie said. "We now need to change for the future and that is what this is all about.''
It is estimated 2,700 eligible homeowners will receive reimbursements through the program. Like most Sandy-related programs, if a homeowner has started work on elevating their house, they are ineligible for the program.
The program is designed to mitigate against future flooding events, and applications will be prioritized by flooding risk and then by level of Sandy-related damage. The cost to elevate homes start at about $30,000, but can increase based on the size of the home, said Bob Martin, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection.
There are no income requirements for the program and Federal Emergency Management Agency registration is not required in order to apply, officials said.