Audit: FEMA Should Recover $3.2M for Sandy Boardwalk Repair in N.J. Town

The Federal Emergency Management Agency should recover nearly half of the $7 million grant it gave to a New Jersey shore town to fix its boardwalk after it was damaged by Superstorm Sandy, a government audit found.

Spring Lake’s two-mile long boardwalk was toppled by waves and debris during the storm. Repairs were initially estimated at $5.5 million, but the work was finished for $3.5 million. reported the Homeland Security Department’s inspector general found that the town spent another $798,317 on equipment, labor and miscellaneous expenses, and $431,507 was covered by insurance.

According to the audit, the town could not properly account for all of the equipment used, and the labor hours reported did not match those on employees’ timesheets. Some invoices for engineering services did not contain supportive documents, the audit said.

Spring Lake administrator W. Bryan Dempsey said he believed the matter would soon be resolved. He noted that the town never actually received the $2 million that was budgeted for the boardwalk project but not spent, so the money is not owed to FEMA, an opinion shared by the state’s Office of the Inspector General.

FEMA should recover $3.2 million and divert it for other purposes, the audit said. FEMA has 90 days to respond.