TRENTON – Gov. Chris Christie has asked the federal government for a Major Disaster Declaration for New Jersey counties impacted by heavy rainstorms and flooding which began on Aug. 13.
“Based on the information and data available, it is evident that the disaster is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and the affected local governments and that federal assistance is necessary,” said Christie. “While New Jersey is accustomed to emergencies arising from severe weather conditions, the scope and intensity of this storm were unprecedented. Today, we are taking the next steps needed to assist New Jerseyans in these affected counties and ensure that we get every dollar of additional aid to the areas where we need it most.”
The state identified Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem counties specifically for federal assistance, but left open the possibility of adding more counties. Federal assistance may be available for infrastructure, public property damage, hazard mitigation, or direct assistance to residents in the form of grants or loans.
In addition, Christie also sent a letter today to United States Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack, requesting the issuance of a natural disaster designation for damages incurred during the 2011 growing season in seventeen counties across New Jersey. These damages, in addition to some localized loss of livestock, were caused by excessive rain, high winds, localized flooding and extreme heat.
“Severe weather conditions that commenced on May 14, 2011 and continue to this day have adversely impacted New Jersey farmers this growing season, causing substantial crop damage,” said Christie in his letter to Vilsack. “A natural disaster designation will enable New Jersey farmers to apply for emergency loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency and for other relief that may be made available from the federal government.”
The disaster designation request covers losses from May 14 to present. Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren counties were included in the request after the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s State Emergency Board review of Loss Assessment Reports submitted by each county.
U.S. Senators Frank Lautenberg and Bob Menendez supported the governor’s requests with their own letter.
“The flooding has caused pain and hardship for residents, local businesses, farmers, and local governments and clean-up and recovery costs will be steep,” the senators wrote. “This will be a significant burden for many individuals and local governments who are facing tight budgets. These communities and our residents deserve all the support that can be provided.”
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