A damaged home at Amherst and Lancaster Avenues, in Margate. Storm damaged homes are abandoned, or delaying rebuilding searching for funding. Wednesday, December, 26, 2012( Press of Atlantic City/ Danny Drake)

Danny Drake

Ocean County exceeded $57 million in home and business loan applications approved by the U.S. Small Business Administration, according to a report released Wednesday.

The 674 homes and 26 businesses were seeking aid to rebuild in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. While FEMA provided disaster relief to those displaced from their primary homes, and National Flood Insurance claims for primary residences were filed, owners of second homes along the Jersey Shore had to seek other funding.

Atlantic County home and business owners were approved for a total of more than $8 million by the SBA. The two counties had the second- and third-highest totals in the state, the report said. The total reflects low-interest loans approved by the SBA specifically for the purpose of rebuilding after a disaster, according to spokeswoman Mary Kathy Cook.

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Because some shore communities have a majority of homes rented out, or considered investments, the loans work in the same way for business owners who lease their property.

Interest rates range from 1.6 percent for homeowners and renters to 4 percent for businesses, Cook said.

But even with the aid, the rebuilding process is taking time. In Ventnor, the state of some ground-floor properties is evidence of that.

“As yet I have not seen any of them start to rebuild,” said Jimmie Agnesino, city construction code official.

Many of them have been rendered uninhabitable and the owners have not yet begun construction. Tenants have left, he said.

About 55 Long Beach Island property owners were approved for $3.5 million in SBA home and business loans. But some gave up on any outside help and went to work with a do-it-yourself attitude.

Alina Molina, who owns a home on LBI, went to the nearest Home Depot and found all the materials to dry out her walls and insulation, using fungicide and putting holes in the wall to let it breathe while adding heat. She and her husband, Mariano, cleaned out their garage, which had been flooded during the hurricane.

“FEMA was busy with other people that needed their help more, and because it was our second home, they wouldn’t do it. So I put my rubber boots on and power washed my garage, and we cleaned it,” Molina said of her home on the island. Her primary home is in Jersey City.

The couple bought their LBI home in January 2005, and were forced to buy a National Flood Insurance policy, but the policy did not help repair the damage to their garage.

“They take your premiums, and then they don’t help anybody,” Molina said of the $280 per year spent on her policy. “They force you to buy into it, and if you don’t then your mortgage would be denied.”

But seeing the condition of her neighborhood has Molina concerned. A neighbor’s home, the first on the street facing the bay, was severely damaged, she said.

“It’s a hole in our street,” she said of the damaged house.

Molina said some owners are talking about selling but that she hopes to eventually make LBI her year-round home.

Out-of-pocket expenses to begin construction on a primary residence has been the choice of some homeowners.

“The numbers insurance is proposing is about 50 percent of what it cost to repair my house,” said Chip McLenna, of Margate, whose house is under construction.

With the aid of FEMA, McLenna was able to temporarily relocate while his house is finished. He said he hopes it will not be more than a few more months.

There were almost 2,000 FEMA claims in Ventnor, which was similar to Margate, Brigantine and Atlantic City, which reached close to 3,000. Long Beach Island had almost 5,000 claims filed, second only to Toms River in the county.

The SBA can provide disaster loans to homeowners for their real estate damages and to both homeowners and renters for their personal property losses, Cook said. It also offers loans to businesses of all sizes to cover uninsured damages to real estate, inventory, machinery, equipment, leasehold improvements, landscaping and for the cost of debris removal.

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SBA loans
County Home loans $ Business loans $ Total $
Atlantic 156 $7,656,500 15 $1,139,700 171 $8,796,200
Ocean 674 $55,033,700 26 $2,617,900 700 $57,651,600
Cumberland 9 $713,200 1 $9,500 10 $722,700
Cape May 99 $3,727,200 12 $994,000 111 $47,212,000
FEMA Claims            
Atlantic County Claims           
Atlantic City 2,673          
Brigantine 2,283          
Egg Harbor Twp. 291          
Longport 644          
Margate 1,782          
Pleasantville 61          
Somers Point 134          
Ventnor 1,894          
Cape May County Claims           
Avalon 765          
Cape May 65          
Cape May Point 11          
Lower Township 60          
Middle Twp. 203          
North Wildwood 614          
Ocean City 4,648          
Sea Isle City 1,080          
Stone Harbor 375          
Upper Township 165          
West Wildwood 204          
Wildwood Crest 101             
Wildwood 399          
Cumberland County Claims           
Downe Twp. 110          
Ocean County Claims           
Barnegat Light 152          
Barnegat 175          
Bay Head 535          
Beach Haven 1,535          
Beachwood 21          
Berkeley 1,333          
Brick   2,939        
Harvey Cedars 530          
Lacey   1,264        
Lavallette 1,589          
Little Egg Harbor 2,360          
Mantoloking   449        
Ocean Gate   296        
Ship Bottom   1,027        
Surf City   881        
Ocean Twp. 493          
Toms River 6,561          
Tuckerton 501          
Stafford Twp. 2,918          
Point Pleasant 970          
Point Pleasant Beach 1,244          
Long Beach Twp. 4,915          
Seaside Park   790        
Seaside Heights  740          
Source: FEMA

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