STATE – On Wednesday, President Barack Obama officially declared that New Jersey is a disaster area in the wake of Hurricane Irene.
The President also announced plans to visit Paterson on Sunday to see the storm damage first-hand.
The declaration makes the state eligible for federal grants, low-interest loans and other programs through the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help with the cleanup and rebuilding process.
Individuals in Bergen, Essex, Morris, Passaic, and Somerset counties are eligible for assistance; they should register online at www.disasterassistance.gov, by web-enabled mobile device at m.fema.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).
Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured or underinsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.
There is some concern whether Washington will provide the necessary funding for hurricane relief, however. Though he has since softened his stance, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) originally called for cuts in other federal government spending before authorizing any increased spending.
Gov. Chris Christie criticized Congress yesterday, “We don’t have time to wait for folks in Congress to figure out how they want to offset this stuff with the budget cuts. Our people are suffering now. And they need support now. … And I don’t want to hear about the fact that offsetting budget cuts have to come first, before New Jersey citizens are taken care of.”
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