Months after Hurricane Sandy's storm surge inundated parts of Woodbridge and destroyed homes, the residents of those areas took matters into their own hands.
They converged on Tuesday night's council meeting and turned a reorganization session of the council into a Hurricane Sandy forum.
Heidelberg Avenue homeowner Monique Coleman led the charge with a prepared statement, asking for tax relief, home buyouts, and the creation of a flood advisory board made up of residents to tackle ways to alleviate flooding problems.
"I urge you to pursue meaningful efforts at long-term flood reduction," Coleman said, brandishing a petition with more than 50 signatures of homeowners in the flooded sections of Woodbridge. She would've had more people sign, but some of those homeowners can't live in their homes since they've been condemned.
Coleman said she had researched what other flood-prone towns have done to address their flooding issues, pointing to Pompton Lakes, which had successfully used a flood advisory board.
"They've worked with borough officials to find ways to alleviate and control flooding," she said. The Pompton Lakes group was visited by Gov. Chris Christie, who said he'd form a special state committee, including the Pompton Lakes mayor, to oversee flood relief efforts.
Both Sayreville and Old Bridge, which have experienced similar flooding problems, have drawn Christie's attention, Coleman said. "We're asking for the same level of concern and support from our elected officials as these other New Jersey towns have received," she said.
Newly elected council president Charles Kenny said he'd look into the flood advisory panel idea. Mayor John McCormac, who showed up at the reorganization, explained that the Army Corps of Engineers had completed studies showing that any major flood mitigation efforts in Woodbridge wouldn't be financially feasible.
But the damage from Sandy, he said, might have put Woodbridge over the top in finally get some federal flood relief help.
Other residents who took to the microphone were getting frustrated with the lack of any long term solutions to the flood problems. "I'm ready to move," said one resident. "Let them buy my house. I can't get any realtors to sell it."