National Emergency Grant money to help Sandy unemployed

Many still trying to rebuild and make ends meet hope the money will get more unemployed people working again. (4/22/14)

UNION BEACH - Sandy-battered communities will be receiving an additional $3.6 million from Washington as an extension of the National Emergency Grant program.

Many still trying to rebuild and make ends meet hope the money will get more unemployed people working again.

Union Beach Public Works Director John Haines says much work still needs to be done to restore borough buildings flooded a year and a half ago by Sandy. "We didn't know where we were gonna turn," he says. "The borough is not really in a financial position to hire additional employees to help with this."

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Through the National Emergency Grant program, Union Beach has been able to hire 25 unemployed people for recovery help.  

Gary Simon, of Bradley Beach, is among the handful of these temporary employees still working in the borough.  He was unemployed for more than five years. "I am glad to be here because it's keeping me afloat," he says.

Two IT experts were also hired to replace the computer system destroyed by Sandy and are trying to restore data lost during the storm.

Dwindling grant money meant days were numbered for these workers. An extension of the program that's bringing additional funds to New Jersey will help towns hire more workers.  

The workers will be screened through Monmouth County Workforce Development. "It really opens up for the municipality to get this work done that they've been working on but they needed more funds to make it happen," says Eileen Higgins, of Monmouth County Workforce Development.

So far, their work has helped move public works employees out of a trailer and back into offices.

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