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Superstorm Sandy

New Jersey's plans for storm grants approved

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NEW JERSEY (MYFOXNY.COM) -

Federal officials have given the go-ahead to New Jersey's plans to spend $1.8 billion in rebuilding grants.

Superstorm Sandy ravaged the Jersey Shore six months ago, but by the looks of things in Ortley Beach it seems like it has only been six days.

"I left the house with two suitcases; figured I'd be gone two, three days, maybe a week," Walter Johnson said. "Here we are six months later and I'm still homeless."

Johnson hopes to have a new house by Labor Day. He said tearing down his Ortley Beach home and building a new one is cheaper than fixing it up.

"I suffered about four feet of flooding," he said. "We were not allowed to come back to the properties for an entire month so the house was just riddled with mold."

Cleanup hasn't even started in some spots in Ortley Beach. One house is five blocks from where the nearest boardwalk was and a piece of that boardwalk ended up inside the house. We're told just to demolish a house is a lengthy process.

"It takes weeks and weeks and weeks, and without complaining everybody's swamped," John Van, a storm victim, said. "The people who come out to inspect the things you disconnected, they just don't have the time."

The time has finally come for some more federal funding. U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and Gov. Chris Christie said more than $1.8 billion in grants is on the way to help people rebuild and elevate their homes.

"We're not here to take a victory lap because we know that we haven't achieved victory yet, anywhere near it," Christie said. "We're here to remind you once again we will not forget you."

This is the first round of disaster relief money to be allocated. Two more rounds of grants are expected later.

Sandy destroyed about 360,000 homes or apartment units in New Jersey, the AP reported.

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