Mayor Dina Long proudly accepted the Resilient Community Award on behalf of Sea Bright, where recovery from superstorm Sandy is an ongoing focus.
Long, who was able to move back into her borough home in December, said it was not just one person that has progressed Sea Bright to the point where it is today, but a great number of people who contributed to the continuous work to bring back their small Shore town following the “dark days” after the October 2012 tempest.
“It was as large as rebuilding a home to as small as sending a card,” she said at a June 3 ceremony when she accepted the award from Farmers Insurance.
Long said the Sea Bright community embodies the core values of resiliency, which have enabled the town to bounce back.
“Just like the wind is relentless here, Sea Bright is relentless,” she said.
Farmers Insurance Chief Administrative Officer Deb Aldredge noted that the perseverance and determination displayed by the town’s residents and leadership have been an inspiration to all of Monmouth County.
“The Sea Bright community is a model for other towns recovering from disaster,” she said. “This award recognizes the admiration we have for this passionate community and the diligence and dedication to recovery that has been displayed here.”
Aldredge presented the award to Long, who was joined by Borough Council President Jack Keeler and Councilman Charles Rooney III in front of the St. Bernard Project (SBP) headquarters on River Street.
SBP, according to its website, is a national nonprofit disaster recovery organization that works to ensure that disaster-impacted citizens and communities recover in a prompt, efficient and predictable manner. It was founded in New Orleans in 2006 in response to Hurricane Katrina. Kelly Riordan, with SBP in Sea Bright, said if it wasn’t for Long, the nonprofit wouldn’t have set up headquarters in the borough 15 months ago.
“Initially we started in Sea Bright, but have expanded to other towns like Port Monmouth, Monmouth Beach, Highlands, and Keansburg in Monmouth County as well as Bayville in Ocean County, helping those devastated by Sandy,” she said.
Farmers Insurance worked with the SBP over the last year through its Farmers Cares Program, a partnership with the SBP that provides assistance to communities in the wake of a national disaster.
Aldredge said the program sends a revolving number of volunteers in weeklong rotations. Volunteers come from all over. To date, they have been involved in the rebuilding of 480 homes in the area.
“After spending time in Joplin [Missouri, which experienced devastation after a tornado in 2011], we thought about the homeowners and their homes, which is central to everything we do,” she said. “And to think about losing a home is mind-boggling.”
She said their year-round involvement, or 13,000-plus hours in New Jersey, has provided that additional push for homeowners to rebuild their homes more rapidly.
“Sometimes it cuts that time in half because these residents may not have the time in between work to do what we are able to help them with,” Aldredge said.
The Farmers Insurance company used the lessons learned in Joplin and created the “Disaster Recovery Playbook,” a step-bystep guide that provides communities with a roadmap to recovery that is currently being used to help aid recovery in Sea Bright and the surrounding communities.
Aldredge said the Resilient Community Award was established last year and was awarded to the mayor of Joplin.
She noted that just last year their work was completed in Joplin.
“While Sea Bright has made tremendous progress since 2012, recovery efforts are ongoing,” Aldredge said. “Farmers and the St. Bernard Project will be here, helping, until that recovery is complete.”