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Is Fort Monmouth An Option For Sandy Evacuees? [AUDIO]

Bruce Mikells
Bruce Mikells

Thousands are still living in emergency evacuation shelters after the Super S torm Sandy blew through our communities and the question becomes where can the residents find permanent housing.

With so many in need of reliable semi permanent to permanent housing, there have been speculation over whether Fort Monmouth could be the solution.

With over eleven hundreds of acres available, the closed military base that encompasses the municipalities of Oceanport, Eatontown, and Tinton Falls and still has the remains of an infrastructure that house thousands of civilian and government employees.

Thirteenth District Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon put the request directly into the Secretary of Homeland Security about the possibility of utilizing Fort Monmouth to house evacuees.

“We know it’s a great facility there, we know there’s shelter there,” Says O’Scanlon.

The Department of Defense still technically owns the property since the closing hasn’t happened yet, that’s why O’Scanlon says the request with federal Government had to be put in.

The Assemblyman says the other issue is the condition of the utilities, HVAC, and electric in the residency facilities; especially after the base was in mothballs for over a year.

He warns even then, Fort Monmouth isn’t the quick and easy fix that many hope.

“I don’t want to get anybody’s hopes up prematurely, we’re not sure exactly sure what conditions those facilities are in. I ask the question is there HVAC still present, is the equipment still there or did they rip out a lot of there. Also draining the pipes and things like that. Moving residents in might be not practical in a lot of those facilities.”

However he says they’re exploring every option, because winter is approaching and people will need stable and warm lodging.

“We are really proactive between the federal government, state government, and county government, we’re looking at every option and Fort Monmouth is one of them.”

Though they don’t want to waste time, and that is the advantages hotels have over Fort Monmouth.

“It’s not an option if you put people into a facility that’s substandard and it’s going to be torturous to be in long term, we don’t want to do that.”

However he says they realize it’s better to have a slightly substandard physical building than a way substandard tent.

Currently FEMA is placing displaced residents in hotel rooms, however there is a finite amount of hotel rooms available and it often doesn’t present a permanent solution. However O’Scanlon says there are opportunities in using hotels because people who were originally placed are leaving as there power comes back on.

“That’s another avenue that’s ready made, it has showers hot water and heat. So as many people as we can get in to the facilities we want to and FEMA will compensate folks for those costs.”

Though he acknowledges hotels aren’t the ideal solution for anyone who’s home was destroyed completely by the flooding and winds of Sandy and in need of a middle to long term solution.

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