It's hard to imagine that seven months from now, the fifth anniversary of Superstorm Sandy hitting the East Coast will be upon us. The memories of that day on October 29, 2012, and its immediate aftermath, are still vivid for those who survived the havoc and devastation. Who can forget what happened in New York, from the darkness that enveloped the lower part of Manhattan at night, to the loss of homes on Staten Island.
New Jersey also suffered the brunt of Sandy as well, including significant housing damage—an issue that is still ongoing for homeowners nearly five years after the storm. Multifamily complexes such as condos weren't immune from Superstorm Sandy, especially the ones that were close to the water. As part of a larger article due out in The Cooperator and The New Jersey Cooperator about Sandy five years later, a New Jersey property manager discussed what he faced when his company took over condominiums that were impacted by the storm.
Memories of Chaos
According to a 2013 report titled “Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Action Plan,” by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, 40,466 homeowners' primary residences suffered either “severe” or “major damage,” based on HUD standards (As of this writing. there was no data available on how many of those affected residences were multifamily properties). The report also broke down the nine areas of Jersey who suffered severe or major housing damage: Atlantic (16%), Bergen (5%), Cape May (4%), Essex (1%), Hudson (8%), Middlesex (4%), Monmouth (20%), Ocean (40%) and Union (1%) Counties, all in all accounting for 98 percent of major and severe damage throughout the state.
John Valkos, property manager at DSV Property Management in Atlantic Highlands, remembers first hand of the chaos and confusion following Sandy. “Most of our properties are along the water,” he says. “There's still a lot of recovery going on and funds are limited. We have been brought into condo complexes that ran into problems due to lack of insurance and poor Sandy repairs.” Valkos says his wife Cynthia, who is the owner of DSV Property Management, examined how these complexes were insured. “We found one complex that wasn’t properly insured according to their bylaws. They were insured cents on the dollar and were not able to finish the rebuild.”
According to Valkos, his management company was brought in two-and-a-half years after the storm to help a condominium complex in the Jersey Shore area. “They not only sustained flooding and damage to the first floor units but to the common hallways,” he says. “This complex was also under insured and overcharged by contractors. With great progress, work has begun and continues today to bring this association whole.