Colleen’s Story

by Mitchel and Dana

Hurricane Sandy survivor Colleen F. is a resident of Little Egg Harbor, NJ. Colleen has resided here for the past 30 years and has raised her daughter in this small community-oriented town. Colleen has a significant presence in her community. For years, her family has attended church at St. Theresa’s, where she contributes a lot of her strength and motivation. Colleen has always enjoyed waking up early to watch the sunrise while drinking her cup of coffee, taking her dog for walks on the beach, visiting a local ice cream shop with her family, having beach days in Long Beach Island, and enjoying time with family and friends at her beach home in Little Egg Harbor. Colleen has a clear view of the nearby marsh from her home, and has enjoyed how close she is to the beach. The beach has served both as a place for solitude and a place for companionship with her family and friends. Colleen has always had a strong love for the town in which she lives.

But Colleen’s home was drastically affected by Hurricane Sandy on October 22, 2012. Her one-story house, being on the marsh, had significant flood damage. Colleen had to move all of her valuable belongings onto the top of her bed for safety. Luckily, her valuables survived, but the house itself was rendered uninhabitable. Left without a home, Colleen found refuge with friends, loved ones, and family. She had to move four times throughout the years following Hurricane Sandy. Reconstructing her home was a difficult process, because her insurance company only gave her $85,000––a mere fraction of the costs of lifting and renovating the house. This unfortunately is not an uncommon situation: insurance companies were only giving the value of the damaged home, rather than of the home prior to damage, because they received so many claims. The only reason Colleen was able to move back into her home within two years was because of the government grants that were given out. Even with her home raised, she still struggles with the constant nuisance flooding in her neighborhood. The roads were raised to help stop the flooding from making streets unusable, but this was ineffective, and Colleen is still forced to move her car from her home when there is going to be flooding. These issues with flooding persist long after the hurricane.

The effects of the hurricane, combined with nuisance flooding, have motivated Colleen to work with New Jersey Resource Project (NJRP) to help raise awareness on the importance of preserving the environment. Colleen is an avid advocate for clean wind energy, which she describes as “a clean and sustainable resource … that we must utilize in attempts to preserve our natural environment.” By using renewable resources to combat climate change, we can mitigate the effects of storms and nuisance flooding on communities such as that of Colleen.

 

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