PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- When President Clinton signed the federal disaster declaration on September 18, 1999, residents of New Jersey were still reeling from what has been described as the worst hurricane to hit the state this century. Recovery seemed to be a distant dream. But two months later, communities have pulled together, and with the help of state, federal and volunteer agencies, made remarkable progress.
To help the recovery process, several programs have been implemented and the application deadline for federal assistance has been extended an additional month, to December 17, 1999. To date, state, federal and volunteer assistance has included the following:
- More than $23 million in Disaster Housing Assistance grants to help over 11,000 households;
- More than $3.7 million in Public Assistance grants to repair damaged public buildings, eligible non-profit facilities and community infrastructure in 21 New Jersey counties. In addition, counties are eligible for Hazard Mitigation grants to establish protective measures against future disasters.
- More than $150,000 for immediate crisis counseling;
- More than $5.4 million in the Individual & Family Grant Programs for families and individuals to meet disaster-related serious needs and necessary expenses not covered by other governmental assistance programs;
- More than $45 million approved in U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) low-interest disaster loans to individuals and businesses;
- The opening of two SBA workshops, in Bergen and Passaic Counties, to answer questions and assist with loan applications. A toll-free number was also established to streamline access to applications for business owners in New Jersey (800-659-2955);
- Disaster Recovery Centers have provided service to more than 3,500 people. The Somerville center remains open with representatives from a full range of assistance programs, including the SBA and FEMA's Mitigation division. The center averages nearly 60 visitors a day. In observance of the Thanksgiving holiday, the center will be closed from 7:00pm, November 24th, until 9:00am November 29th.
- New Jersey residents have received Disaster Unemployment Assistance totaling over $81,000 as a result of Hurricane Floyd.
- Many volunteer organizations have been active in New Jersey's disaster response and recovery. The American Red Cross has assisted over 2,100 individual families and served over 126,000 meals. Other groups providing assistance include The Salvation Army, who continues to provide a canteen service for those in need, AT&T Telephone Pioneers, Catholic Charities, Community Food Bank of New Jersey and We Will Rebuild.
If you have not yet begun the assistance process, please call FEMA's toll-free registration number at 1-800-462-9029. People who are interested in the status of their filed applications may call the Disaster Helpline at 1-800-525-0321. People with speech or hearing impairments may call 1-800-462-7585 (TTY). The hours for all phone banks are 7:00am to 7:00pm, seven day a week.
Beginning November 22, the teleregistration and Helpline hours will change to 8:00am to 6:00pm, Monday through Saturday. All lines will be closed on November 25, 1999, in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday. Service will resume at 8:00am on November 26, 1999.