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Jersey Shore towns have borrowed $398M since Sandy, awaiting federal aid

MANASQUAN, N.J. (APP) – Seven months after President Barack Obama approved $50.5 billion of aid to help rebuild communities devastated by Hurricane Sandy, the New Jersey beach town of Manasquan has received about one-tenth of its cleanup costs.

It’s the same story up and down the 130-mile length of the Jersey Shore, where localities have almost doubled their borrowing, partly to pay for repairs until federal funds arrive.

Since Sandy struck Oct. 29, 42 Shore towns including Manasquan, where the $664,000 median value of owner-occupied housing is almost twice the state average, have sold about $398 million of short-term debt, data compiled by Bloomberg show. For a similar period in 2011-2012, 31 such communities issued $225 million. They’re borrowing as one-year interest rates are close to the highest since 2011.

Towns along the coast, the backbone to New Jersey’s $40-billion-a-year tourism industry, expected hardship after Sandy, the biggest Atlantic storm in history. What some didn’t anticipate was a federal paperwork review so lengthy that they are borrowing even as FEMA has set aside $813.3 million for New Jersey and its local governments.