MANASQUAN, N.J. — Since Superstorm Sandy smashed the Jersey shore, owners of flood-damaged homes up and down the coast feared something else might happen to their properties, sitting vacant and largely unwatched.
Those fears came true for a dozen homeowners Wednesday in this popular Jersey shore beach town, which is still reeling from damage Sandy inflicted in October. An early morning fire damaged 12 houses on or near the beachfront, destroying two.
The one small bit of good news was that because most of the homes had been damaged by the storm, they were not occupied when the fire broke out and no one was injured. Still the fire touched an exposed nerve.
"We were all worried about looting, but the town and the National Guard did a great job of protecting the area. But now this," said Allyson Aiello, who lives a few doors down from where the fire began and whose home was not damaged by it.
Fire Chief Mike Galos said the blaze broke out at 5:41 a.m. in a house on First Avenue that had come through the storm relatively unscathed. It spread to an adjacent home, destroying both. Ten other houses nearby and on the Manasquan beachfront suffered various degrees of damage.
Galos said he knew of no obvious cause for the fire, but said electric and natural gas services recently were restored.
White House to seek about $50 billion in aid: President Barack Obama plans to ask Congress this week for about $50 billion in emergency spending to help rebuild the states ravaged by Superstorm Sandy.
The final sum is still in flux, but should fall between $45 billion and $55 billion, according to administration and congressional officials.
That falls significantly short of the $82 billion sought by New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to clean up storm damage, as well as to infrastructure to prepare for future storms.