New Jersey marinas swamped by rules, recovery

LITTLE EGG HARBOR — In 45 years of operation, the Munro family never saw anything like the 30 inches of water in their marina’s engine shop. But now they’re worried it’s the rules for rebuilding from superstorm Sandy that will put them out of business.

“You can’t operate a marina 14 feet in the air,” said Vicki Munro, who runs Munro’s Marina in Mystic Island with husband, Allen, and daughter Kristi. Alarmed by new federal flood zone maps and impending new local building ordinances, representatives from 15 area marinas and boats businesses met Monday with news crews to talk about their worries.

While Gov. Chris Christie is promising to ease state regulations, marina owners said they don’t know how to pay for rebuilding to the new flood zone elevations. A meeting Friday night with Federal Emergency Management Agency workers and some 900 residents — many still out of their homes — wasn’t much help, Kristi Munro said.

“I could not get an answer. I got, ‘We don’t know, we’ll try, I’ll get back to you,” she said. “It’s now 70 days after the hurricane, and we don’t have a single answer.”

Marina operators are being told they don’t qualify for federal aid because FEMA can’t offer direct grants to business — at best, Small Business Administration loans at rates that are often not competitive with banks.

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