WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Federal disaster aid for New Jersey was authorized today to help families and businesses recover from the effects of Hurricane Floyd, according to the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
FEMA Director James Lee Witt said President Clinton authorized the assistance under a major disaster declaration issued for the state this afternoon. The declaration covers damage to private and public property from Floyd, which began buffeting the state's coastline on September 16.
The action follows the President's emergency declaration of September 17 that released federal resources to help meet immediate critical needs and funding for state and local governments for debris removal and emergency services, including requested emergency work undertaken by the federal government.
Under the declaration, Witt said affected residents and business owners are eligible to apply for federal assistance in the counties of Bergen, Essex, Mercer, Middlesex, Morris, Passaic, Somerset and Union.
The assistance, to be coordinated by FEMA, can include grants to help pay for temporary housing, minor home repairs and other serious disaster-related expenses. Low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration also will be available to cover residential and business losses not fully compensated by insurance.
Additionally, Witt said federal funds will be provided for the state and affected local governments in the eight designated counties to pay 75 percent of the eligible cost for restoring damaged public facilities. The declaration also makes cost-shared funding available to the state for approved projects that reduce future disaster risks.
Witt, who designated the areas eligible for assistance following the declaration, indicated that more counties may be designated later if requested and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.
FEMA's Peter Martinasco, federal coordinating officer for New Jersey relief operations, said residents and business owners who sustained hurricane losses in the designated counties can begin the disaster application process on Sunday, September 19, by calling 1-800-462-9029, or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.