$10,000 Grants Available To Residents In 9 Hardest-Hit Counties

LITTLE FERRY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Chris Christie visited Little Ferry, N.J. on Tuesday, urging residents impacted by Hurricane Sandy to not miss their chance to cash in on federal assistance.

Homeowners have until Thursday to apply for Homeowner Resettlement grants, covered by $180 million in federal Sandy aid.

The governor said the funding will help residents of Little Ferry and many other towns get back on their feet.

“These $10,000 grants are lifelines for residents who are currently facing considerable financial pressure. Homeowners can use the grants for any non-construction purpose such as flood insurance premiums, mortgage payments, rental payments,” said Christie. “As people rebuild their lives, we want them to stay right here in New Jersey. We want them to stay right here in Little Ferry.”

The grants are available to those who agree to stay in their communities in the nine hardest-hit counties in the state: Atlantic, Bergen, Cape May, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean and Union.

Though her home was heavily damaged when Sandy hit nine months ago, Little Ferry resident Janet Castilano said she doesn’t have a problem with that.

“Can’t let stuff like that get to you. You have to move on. You have to go beyond it and be stronger,” she told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond.

Repairs are still under way in the Little Ferry house Fredrick and Lorraine Ortiz abandoned nine months ago.

“It was very scary … very, very,” Frederick said.

It was terrifying because Fredrick Ortiz has dementia and Parkinson’s disease. During Sandy, he took refuge on the third floor of his home as the flood waters rushed in, and like other residents he had to be rescued.

“They took him out by canoe … He was shaking and he was scared … I remember … Never forget it,” emotional Lorraine Ortiz told CBS 2’s Christine Sloan.

“This I think will help them get their life back … Their whole savings is in this house,” daughter Joy Ortiz told Sloan.

Bruce Springsteen’s “We Take Care Of Our Own,” blared through speakers as Christie took to the podium.

“You’ve got two more days to apply for this program and we have money available to be able to distribute to homeowners who need it and who have suffered damage. So, please don’t wait,” the governor said.

Eligible homeowners can apply for grant assistance online at www.renewjerseystronger.org, by phone at 1-855-SANDYHM (1-855-726-3946), or in person at any one of the Housing Recovery Centers open in each of the nine counties most affected by Sandy.

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