Residents and businesses in another four New Jersey counties ravaged by the remnants of Hurricane Ida now will be eligible for federal disaster relief, the White House announced Friday.
The counties are Essex, Hudson, Mercer and Union. President Joe Biden initially issued a disaster declaration for Bergen, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Passaic and Somerset counties.
U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez said the expanded declaration gives those four additional counties “access to greater federal assistance and resources to help residents, families, and businesses rebuild and get back on their feet.”
State and local officials have sought since then to expand the list of counties that can receive federal assistance. Biden himself visited Manville on Tuesday.
On the day of the visit, members of the state’s congressional delegation asked Deanne Criswell, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to expand the disaster declaration to cover the additional counties.
FEMA and the state Office of Emergency Management toured all four counties earlier this week. They also visited Burlington, Monmouth, Morris and Warren counties, which have yet to be added to the declaration. FEMA officials said they were still assessing those counties.
“We’re continuing to work with FEMA and county leaders across the state to expedite damage assessments and have those counties added to the major disaster declaration,” Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday.
The declaration makes residents and business owners in the affected counties eligible for a number of federal programs, including low-cost loans for property losses not covered by insurance, and grants for temporary shelter and home repairs.
In addition, state add local governments and some nonprofit organizations in those same counties can receive federal funding for emergency work and repairing or replacing facilities damaged by the storms.
“We are just beginning the rebuilding process,” Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-9th Dist., said Friday. “Federal disaster declaration lets us get resources to families and our local governments.”
Residents and business owners in the designated counties can request assistance online at http://www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA(3362). The TTY number for the hearing or speech impaired is 1-800-462-7585 (TTY). Calls will be accepted seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Separately, residents and businesses throughout the state will be eligible for federal funds to help cover the costs of measures designed to address future disasters.
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