"It was designed for those who don't have a roof over their head or a place to live," said Tom McDermott, a FEMA mitigation specialist. "I guess they said if they can afford a second home or a camp, and don't take this the wrong way, it isn't necessary that they get back up so they can enjoy a weekend or a week away."
Second homeowners said the problem is that insurance doesn't fully cover the price of the options for these homes: rehabbing and, in many cases, lifting them or demolishing them and rebuilding from scratch.
"Everybody is in limbo because you can't proceed to the next step," said Benita Kiernan, whose neighborhood is now a patchwork of vacant damaged homes, freshly leveled lots and small ranch homes boosted up on stilts in an effort to keep them out of the water the next time a massive storm strikes.
Many are waiting to see if they can qualify for any other assistance, but aside from private charities, there is little help. Some are dipping into their retirement funds.Michelle and John Novella are rebuilding their Stafford Township home on their own, putting everything on credit cards. "First homeowners should be the priority," Michelle Novella said, but she feels second homeowners who patronize the seasonal businesses and make up the lifeblood of the Jersey shore should get something. "Otherwise," she said, "it's going to make the Jersey shore very different." ___ Follow Katie Zezima at www.twitter.com/katiezez