Washington, DC -- The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) today designated the northern New Jersey counties of Morris and Sussex eligible for federal aid to people and communities swamped by last weekend's flooding rains.
FEMA Director James Lee Witt took the action immediately after President Clinton declared a major disaster for the state this afternoon as a result of damage from severe storms, flooding and mudslides that hit the area beginning August 12.
Under the declaration, Witt said flood-stricken residents in Morris and Sussex counties can apply for federal assistance that can include FEMA 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, federal funds will be available to the state and affected local governments to pay 75 percent of the eligible cost for debris removal, emergency services related to the disaster, and restoring damaged public facilities. The declaration also makes cost-shared funding available to the state for approved projects that reduce future disaster risks.
Witt indicated additional counties may be designated for assistance later if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments. He named Peter Martinasco of FEMA to coordinate the federal relief effort.
Martinasco said residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties can begin the disaster application process by calling 1-800-462-9029, or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will be available starting Friday, August 18, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.