Officials warn flood victims to avoid fraudulent contractors

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Brick Township Police Chief James Riccio along with other officials where on hand at Greenbriar I to help flooding victims avoid and deter the criminal behavior often seen in the wake of natural disasters such as fraud and theft. The Brick Township Police Department partnered with the New Jersey Governor's Office and Greenbriar I home owners association to present a symposium on these issues on Wednesday August 22, 2018. (MARK R. SULLIVAN /THE OCEAN STAR)

BRICK TOWNSHIP — While residents of Greenbriar I turn from cleaning their flood-damaged homes to rebuilding, the township, county and state governments are taking steps to protect them from fraudulent contractors.

“We felt it important for us to be able to educate [residents] in things that we learned from having gone through this before,” Brick Police Chief James Riccio told a crowd of nearly 100 residents whose homes were affected by flooding that occurred Aug. 13, which left over 200 homes damaged throughout the township.

Since Superstorm Sandy, the town has learned to be wary of fraudulent contractors, who usually ask for funds up front and don’t deliver on promises to home owners, he said.

“It’s unfortunate that we have to be here under these circumstances. These types of incidents bring out the worst in people and the best in people,” Chief Riccio said during a forum at the Greenbriar I clubhouse.

A panel of experts, that included representatives of offices of consumer affairs at the county and state levels, along with law enforcement agencies and volunteers, spoke to residents.

Greenbriar I is already taking steps to combat fraudulent contractors. Before contractors could enter the community, they must register at the community’s clubhouse.

The advice that experts gave residents was to not pay a large downpayment, but only give contractors enough to pay for materials.

Also, they advised residents to sign a contract before agreeing to any work, and make sure that a start and end date for any construction is stipulated.

On Aug. 13, 8 inches of rain fell in roughly four-and-a-half hours, inundating the adult community. First responders evacuated around 60 residents by boat. Many residents blame drainage failures on Burrsville Road and a newly constructed Parkway interchange for worsening flood conditions in the area. 

For more on this story, read The Ocean Star—on newsstands Friday or online in our e-Edition.