On October 31st, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, a soon-to-be-reelected President Barack Obama joined New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for a survey of the devastation at the Jersey Shore. In Brigantine, Obama embraced distraught local business owner Donna Vanzant, whose North Point Marina sustained widespread damage during the storm.
Obama promised her “immediate” assistance, and the photo of their hug went viral days before the election. Now that months have passed since Sandy, I called Vanzant to find out if Obama made good on his promise.
I can’t imagine what you and others at the Shore have been through. How are you holding up?
[Pause] I am surviving. Just surviving. My biggest problem at this point is the insurance companies. Big time. I’ve heard of people that have gotten money from FEMA, but of course FEMA doesn’t help businesses. I’m waiting on my flood policy to come through and help rebuild. Without them sending the money, I can’t start.
Who is your insurer, and what are they telling you?
The insurer is RLI. They don’t even return calls. The insurance companies have also been dragging their feet with the owners of the boats who dock here. I’m losing customers left and right because the insurance company is totaling their boats, which they should not be totaling, because they did not go underwater. They floated and landed. And with each boat they total, I feel like I am being slapped in every direction possible.
Can you put a monetary value on the damage that you have sustained?
I have probably suffered $500,000 in losses. And we’ve lost all of our docks and our bulkhead, and the estimate for that is $200,000, and you can’t get insurance on your docks or bulkhead. And now I am hearing on the TV news that the insurance companies may be running out of money.
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