Freeholder Joseph Vicari was watching C-SPAN, listening to New Jersey Sens. Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez talking about the need for billions in federal funding to repair damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.
There was one thing that bothered him about it, however: all of the damage they discussed was in North Jersey.
"The senators made it very clear about North Jersey, but I didn’t hear anyone mention the Jersey Shore," Vicari said. "They have to be more aggressive about getting the money for us, too."
It's not just financial assistance Vicari wants to see for Ocean County, especially the small businesses that have been severely impacted by the storm. He wants to see FEMA do more to remove debris that will impact tourism, and he wants to see it done quickly, he told his fellow freeholders during Wednesday's preboard meeting of the Ocean County Board of Freeholders.
"I'm not saying other things don't have to be done," Vicari said. "They do. But Ocean County needs its fair share. We have to be on a priority list to get back on our feet."
Debris -- sunken boats, sunken cars and trucks, pieces of destroyed homes and more -- have made it risky to boat in Barnegat Bay and in some areas along the oceanfront. Vicari wants to see that addressed soon.
"Picking up the debris has to be done in the next 60 days," he said. And it's a task that is beyond the county's capabilities, so the state and the federal government need to step in to take care of it, he said.
"FEMA and the Army Corps (of Engineers) have the experience and ability" to clean up the waterways, he said.
In addition, the banking industry has to be pressured to do more to help small businesses by providing the loans they need to get back to business.
"We gave China $100 million in stimulus," Vicari said. "It's reasonable to say FEMA should be doing more (for Ocean County)."
"We need federal dollars immediately," he said. "We need the federal government to say 'Get it done' the way the Army Corps gets it done," because the tourism industry in the county is at risk.
"Lautenberg and Menendez were talking about billions. We’re not talking about that, we’re talking a reasonable amount of money to get them back," Vicari said.