For Manchester area residents, the closest place to get advice from the Federal Emergency Management Agency on the Sandy rebuilding process this week may be the Toms River Lowe's.
"It's slow, but there is progress being made," said David Weiglain, a hazard mitigation outreach specialist for the federal agency stationed at the home improvement store. Many who have stopped by the table set up by FEMA table, which will be staffed through Saturday, have been asking about elevation maps.
"That's been the primary question," Weiglain said. Others are asking what they need to do next to rebuild.
"We're just trying to give them some guidance," Weiglain said.
Bayville resident Chris Marotto stopped by the FEMA table and chatted with Weiglain about elevations, but said that he still hasn't received a clear answer as to what he should do. His home received about an inch of flooding during Sandy, but it remains unclear which flood zone his home should be in and how to go about rebuilding.
"I'm deferring the concept of rebuilding my house until I figure out exactly what needs to be done," he said. "I'm not doing it twice."
A Toms River resident at the store who declined to be identified said that a recent Patch letter to the editor from a woman displaced from her Seaside Park home "hit the nail on the head."
"There is nowhere to go to get answers to the problems you are facing and no one place that can offer help, advocacy, guidance and real answers," writes Faith C. Liguori in her open letter to government officials.
Like others, Marotto said that he is unsure if he should raise his home — if he doesn't, his insurance costs are expected to increase.
"The number I'm hearing from my agent is that it would cost $10,000 per year," Marotto said, which in three years would about equal the cost of raising his home. "I don't know where this is going."
Recovery is moving forward, Weiglain said, though returning to normal will take some time, especially if residents are unsure about raising their homes.
"This is a massive event to deal with, but they're doing the best they can," he said.
Residents who need help are invited to visit the Lowe's, 1375 Hooper Ave., or travel to the disaster recovery center 953 Fischer Blvd.
"If they've already registered, they can pull up their file, get very specific on where they stand," he said. Others who have yet to register for assistance have until Jan. 28