Grenville Owners Tell Acting Gov. About FEMA Frustration
Other business owners and residents also ask for help
Renee Typaldos thought sleeping on a mattress on the floor of her Sandy-ravaged restaurant, losing electricity, heat and all the food, and becoming ill from breathing in gas leaking from Sandy-ripped lines all over Bay Head would be enough to get some help from FEMA.
She was wrong.
A FEMA inspector visited her and Harry Typaldos, co-owners of the Historic Grenville Hotel and Restaurant, shortly after Sandy barreled through Bay Head, flooding the hotel's basement and shorting out the electrical and heating systems.
Renee Typaldos was sleeping during those nights on a mattress in front of a fireplace in the main dining room of the restaurant.
"That was the only way I could stay warm," she said. "The man from FEMA looked at the fireplace and said, 'That looks cozy. You have more than most.' And I got denied. I'm appealing.
"Is he kidding?" she said, exasperated. "We're just regular people. I'm a working class person. And the Red Cross told me they couldn't help me. They told me to call FEMA."
Tired of 'Hurry up and Wait'
The restaurant owners and a small group of other local business people and residents told Acting Gov. Kim Guadagno on Friday afternoon that they are fed up waiting for help from FEMA, SBA, insurance companies and every other public and private entity telling them, "Wait."
Guadagno, one by one, walked each of them through the best process to try to get results, including calling Donald Newman, manager of the Call Center and Small Business Advocate for the NJ Business Action Center, 609-984-9834.
Newman said that while his office deals primarily with businesses, they can also do referrals for residents having trouble getting help.
If all else fails, Guadagno said, business people and residents can email her at email@example.com.
Route 35 Reconstruction Could be the Next Disaster
Harry and Renee Typaldos, who bought the hotel/restaurant in 2004, have not had much business since re-opening in mid-January. And they're feeling it.
"We need people," said Renee Typaldos.
Worse yet is the spectre of the state Department of Transportation planning a major Route 35 reconstruction slated to start in northern Bay Head, just past the Point Beach border, in June, and then move south, promising to tie up traffic from Point Beach, through Bay Head and beyond.
"What am I going to do? I have no parking here," Renee Typaldos told Guadagno.
Point Pleasant Beach Mayor Vincent Barrella, who Bay Head officials had invited to the Grenville on Friday, noted that while Guadagno has been visiting Jersey Shore businesses to showcase that they are open to promote tourism, the DOT plan to overhaul the Bay Head section of Route 35 during the summer will drive tourists away.
He suggested that the DOT start working on Route 35 further south, where there are two lanes in each direction, so the southern lanes can be shut down and worked on while the northern lanes are used as one northbound and one southbound, and then move north to work on Route 35 in Bay Head after the summer.
Barrella had also written to the DOT, cc'ing Guadagno, got one phone call from a gubernatorial aide saying a response would be forthcoming, and is waiting to hear more.
His Feb. 26 letter to DOT Commissioner James Simpson notes that the larger scope of the project is to renovate a 3.5 mile stretch of Route 35 from the Bay Head/Point Beach border to Island Beach State Park and for work to be ongoing 16 hours a day for six days a week.
That the project is starting at the Bay Head/Point Beach border in June means "Point Pleasant Beach will therefore become ground zero for what's likely to be some of the worst summer traffic delays ever experienced in the state" and will be another "body blow" to residents and business people, he wrote.
Guadagno said she would see if the plan can be modified.
"If we can avoid it, we will," she said. "And if we can't, you'll at least get an answer as to why and I don't think you can ask for more than that.
But the state does want to see tourism flourish this summer, she insisted.
"You are a $38 billion tourism industry and no one more than this administration wants the Jersey Shore to have a summer season."
Guadagno said she had just visited Montreal and Chicago to promote Jersey Shore tourism and would be going to Canada again.
Complaints, Some Phone Calls and Lots of Liquor License Restrictions
The acting governor fielded complaints from a small group of business people and residents on everything from FEMA's reluctance to provide rental assistance and other forms of relief to insurance companies not paying out to the need for dune replenishment.
When asked how they arranged for Guadagno to visit their business, Renee Typaldos said she met Guadagno at a meeting held by Assemblyman David Rible.
"It took a couple of phone calls" to make it happen, said Typaldos, just before Guadagno arrived.
Renee Typaldos also asked Guadagno about the restaurant's liquor license, but Guadagno referred that matter to Bay Head Mayor Bill Curtis, who didn't respond publicly.
Later, Typaldos said, "The license has a long list of restrictions, including hours, the type of alcohol sold and a lot of other things. There shouldn't be these types of restrictions everywhere in Bay Head except for the yacht club for members only."
Typaldos said that while the business and the town had been in litigation, that ended in "an agreement to try to work with each other in harmony." She added that she hopes the "harmony" leads to fewer restrictions on her license because she and her partner believe a full liquor license is necessary to make the business profitable again.
St. Paul's of Bay Head Gets a Car
Also at the Grenville on Friday was Pastor Scott Bostwick of St. Paul's Church in Bay Head, which has been serving free, hot meals to residents every day since Sandy struck. Toyota gave St. Paul's a free car to use for a year and gave 18 to the Red Cross, Bostwick said.
He said many displaced residents are still living in hotels and that the car would be used to give them rides and to help with the church's new ministry to single mothers who often need rides to various public offices.
Bostwick said he is among the displaced. His Bay Head home was flooded by Sandy and he and his family have been renting a home in Point Pleasant Borough while they repair their own home.
FEMA, SBA, Deadlines and Contact Info.
Guadagno, as she usually does, dropped a reminder for all affected businesses and residents to register with FEMA, apply for SBA loans and keep attuned to news of Community Development Block Grants eventually becoming available once the federal goverment takes steps to finalize New Jersey's plan for the grants.
She said it appears that the federal sequestration will not impact the $1.8 billion in federal funding allocated towards Sandy relief, but that future allocations may be impacted.
Originally, March 1 was the deadline for businesses and residents flooded by Sandy to apply for an SBA loan. However, that deadline has been extended to April 1.
Also, businesses that had no physical damage but that lost revenue in Sandy's aftermath have until July 31 to apply for an SBA "economic injury loan," SBA officials have said.
Homeowners, renters, and business owners are encouraged to register with both FEMA and the SBA to ensure their eligibility for aid going forward, officials have said.
Sandy survivors also can register with FEMA by calling 800-621-3362, TTY800-462-7585.
FEMA disaster assistance can include money for rental assistance, essential home repairs, personal property losses and other serious disaster-related needs not covered by insurance, according to a release.
For more information about how to apply for loans and grants through SBA and FEMA, and other information, click here.