We are heartened by the progress of some of the residents of Tuckerton and Little Egg Harbor Township whose houses were damaged by Hurricane Sandy. But I am gravely concerned for a segment of the population that perpetually receives little attention after a disaster - senior citizens who are living at or just below poverty level.
Many of these folks worked for years in blue-collar jobs and then retired to Tuckerton. They bought affordable vacation homes on the lagoons, built in the 1950s. When they were no longer able to work, they moved here to take advantage of a lower cost of living. Because they had paid off their mortgages, they had no flood insurance. After the storm hit, many have continued to live in their houses amid the mold and with diminished protection against the elements.
My church has been providing "Sandy lunches" to affected neighbors since early November. Through this ministry, we have met many people for whom we are concerned. For example, we met a couple in their 80s who settled in Little Egg Harbor in 1990 and lived in a small house on North Ensign Drive. They took in a disabled woman to live with them to supplement their income. After the storm, the three of them continued to live in the damaged house, using a camping heater for warmth. Each time we visited, the woman cried and cried. She died from a stroke on April 9.
There are other people like this. Rebuilding and/or elevating their homes is not an option for them. How are they to continue to manage in the aftermath of the storm? What will become of them when the next storm hits?
We need Gov. Chris Christie's personal attention to bring resources, leadership and a visionary plan to ensure that the most vulnerable of our community are not overlooked.
REV. MERIDETH S. MUELLER
First Presbyterian Church