"Layers upon layers of problems" are preventing any progress in the salvage of boats in an area of New Jersey that was struck hard by Hurricane Sandy.
"Things are the same or no better than they were a few days ago in our 'ground zero' area and now we have this nor'easter coming," Tom Hurst, owner of TowBoatUS Manasquan and Budget Boat Towing and Salvage, said this morning from Brick, N.J.
"There's just no infrastructure — everyone is just holding on to what five gallons of gas they have. We have gas rationing right now. We have no power, no Internet, and we don't even know what is going on outside of our bubble here, which is pretty much Ocean and Monmouth counties."
Hurst's building is being used as fire and police headquarters. "I am feeding 200 people a day out of here."
Salvaging boats has been nearly impossible, he said.
"When you talk to people who just lost their houses completely and say you have a problem with a boat and are trying to salvage it, they don't want to hear it," he said. "They are actually insulted that you want to worry about a boat right now."
Another example of the hurdles Hurst faces: "I got a claim for a sunken boat this morning. Well, the neighbor of the owner's boat is on top of his boat and the neighbor is nowhere to be found. We have layers upon layers of problems here."
Conditions are not just severe in New Jersey, but also in the entire Tri-State area, which also includes southwestern Connecticut and New York's Long Island and lower Hudson River area.
"Our biggest concern is that we don’t get lost in the shuffle because I know that a lot of the concentration is in the Long Island and New Jersey areas," Hudson Valley Marine Trades Association president Gabe Capobianchi said. "It has been devastating to the people in the Hudson Valley, as well. The cost and the effort it is going to take to get people back on their feet again are going to be tremendous."