The Wait is Over for some Union Beach Sandy Victims
A long time Union Beach resident and his family are the first to move into the Bayshore Bungalows Modular Units replacing a neighborhood washed away during Super storm Sandy.
Despite having had to wait more than two-and-a-half years after the storm after losing the home he lived in for 27 years and most of its valuables, David Suttles said he considers himself lucky.
"When I look around the corner from where my house is, and I see empty lots and nothing going on, I realize I'm one of the lucky ones," said Suttles.
Suttles, was part of a ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday, along with Union Beach Mayor Paul Smith, celebrating the opening of the first modular unit at 614 Bayview Avenue for Sandy-impacted homeowners.
The units were made possible through the Affordable Housing Alliance (AHA) and NeighborhoodWorks America. To date, AHA has distributed nearly $10 million for Hurricane Sandy related issues, and has helped 3,000 Sandy survivors in the process.
Wells Fargo Bank provided the seed money for the Bayshore Bungalow program with a $125,000 Priority Market Grant.
"There were months of pre-development, planning and architectural design issues that needed to be addressed prior to offering the models for construction," said AHA Chief Executive Officer Donna Blaze in a prepared statement."With the help of the Wells Fargo grant these expenses were paid for in advance and not transferred in the expense to the homeowners. The goal of the program has always been to return the equity position to the homeowner and with the help of Wells Fargo we can do that."
While waiting to return to a home, Suttles and his family stayed with neighbors across town and even lived in a unit at Fort Monmouth, made available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), following the storm.
Suttles said while he's excited about making his new house a home again, it brings back feelings of survivors guilty he experienced immediately after Sandy. He shared how the entire process of being displaced has impacted him while recalling how a young volunteer stopped him on the street to ask if he could say a prayer for Suttles.
"It changes you because you realize how much people will come to help other people when they're in trouble. So, how could you not feel for other people when they're doing that for you," said Suttles.
The Suttles family, and others benefiting from the Bayshore Bungalow Program, have a support network that includes AHA, the Wells Fargo Housing Foundation, NeighborWorks Capital, Rebuilding Together, Pro Bono Partnership, the Hurricane Sandy NJ Relief Fund, Robin Hood Foundation, Statewide Custom Modular Homes, St. Bernard Project, and Next Step.