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NJ storm victims scrambling to find rental homes

Associated Press Modified: November 11, 2012 at 4:03 pm •  Published: November 11, 2012
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"They look cold, they look tired and we're doing everything to accommodate them," she said. "But at a certain point there's no room at the inn."

The hotel didn't have power until Thursday because of Sandy and a subsequent snowstorm. MacPherson asked friends on Facebook to send homemade cookies and snacks.

"As the utility guys start to go home my waiting list is three pages long with Army Corps guys, FEMA guys, displaced residents, Verizon guys looking to rework poles," MacPherson said. "It's unbelievable."

The state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency are still determining how many residents will be displaced long-term, said Lisa Ryan, director of communications for the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. The state and FEMA are working with rental property owners, hotels and housing authorities to find shelter for people, she said.

The Cramers have been staying with Tommy's brother.

Clothes hung from a bar in the back of the Mountaineer; they're all Irene took from the house. Neither of them brought a coat, thinking they would be able to retrieve items from their home shortly after the storm.

Tommy, 63, and Irene, 57, drove around Holiday City, a planned senior community of small ranch homes with garages, looking for rent or for sale signs. Holiday City was appealing because the homes don't have stairs, important because Tommy has bad knees.

The homes, along with others in the many adult housing developments on the Jersey Shore, are also cheap. At least one house in Holiday City is on the market for $69,000, a price that led the Cramers to think about buying.

The couple's home was damaged in Hurricane Irene last year, and they stayed for nine weeks with relatives down the street. Tommy is determined to go back.

"I spent my whole life planning to be here," he said. "I don't want to leave so quick."

Tina Simon, 39, does want to leave. She, her husband and 5-year-old son lived in Seaside Heights and don't think they will be able to go back permanently for months because there is no gas service. The family is staying with friends in Jackson and trying to find a long-term rental so their son can start school again.

"It's been really difficult," she said. The family is working with two real estate agents and scouring listings online and in the newspaper. "The rents, they were high before, but it seems like they got exponentially higher."

Real estate agents said they are working to make sure landlords aren't raising prices in the wake of the storm.

Simon said she has received FEMA money and wants a place in Ocean County, close to where she and her husband work. The process, she said, has been frustrating.

"I'm not finding anything. They're like, 'You have to go through a whole process,'" Simon said. "I'm like, 'I need a home now. I have a 5-year-old I have to get into school.'"

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