(The Center Square) – A growing number of elected officials want the feds to add more New Jersey counties to its major disaster declaration in the wake of Tropical Storm Ida.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) included Bergen, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Passaic and Somerset counties in its initial major disaster declaration.
“We have a lot of work to be done,” U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., said in a statement. “There remains counties that have not yet been declared and can use the federal assistance that becomes unlocked with a Major Disaster Declaration.”
The major disaster declaration opens up access to federal dollars for recovery efforts, including grants for temporary housing and home repairs.
“It’s incredible in my mind that as of now, a week after this storm has caused such devastation, that we are still fighting over whether or not Plainfield and Union County and other parts of the state ought to be declared a disaster area eligible for federal funding,” News 12 New Jersey quoted Plainfield Mayor Adrian Mapp as saying.
The storm left 27 people in New Jersey dead, and four people are still missing. The New Jersey congressional delegation sent a letter to congressional leaders pushing for an emergency disaster supplemental bill to rebuild homes, businesses and infrastructure.
“I am shocked and disappointed that both Essex and Morris counties were not declared major disaster areas by FEMA,” state Sen. Kristin Corrado, R-Totowa, said in a statement. “The damage left by Tropical Storm Ida was quite severe, and many people in those counties require substantial federal assistance for recovery efforts.
“I visited several towns in both counties to survey the damage and noticed immediately that there were numerous homes and small businesses that were permanently damaged from extreme flooding,” Corrado added. “There is absolutely no reason to exclude the people of Essex and Morris from receiving essential federal support.”