WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced today that President Bush has declared a major disaster for New Jersey, opening the way for the use of federal funds to help meet the recovery needs of flood-stricken families and businesses in the south-central part of the state.
Michael D. Brown, Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response, said the President took the action immediately after receiving FEMA’s analysis of the state’s request for federal relief. The declaration covers damage to private and public property from severe storms and flooding beginning on July 12.
“President Bush acted quickly because he recognizes that people have been overwhelmed by these floods and need immediate assistance,” Brown said. “The Department of Homeland Security and FEMA will do all we can to help get those in need back on the road to recovery as fast as possible.”
After the declaration, Brown designated the counties of Burlington and Camden eligible for federal aid to affected residents that can include grants to help pay for temporary housing, 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.
In addition, Brown said federal funds will be provided for the state and affected local governments in Burlington County to pay 75 percent of the eligible costs for debris removal, emergency services related to the floods and the repair or replacement damaged public facilities.
Under the declaration, the counties of Burlington and Camden are eligible to apply for federal funding on a cost-shared basis for approved projects that reduce future disaster risks, Brown said. He indicated damage surveys are continuing and additional designations may be made later based on the results of the assessments.
Peter Martinasco of FEMA was named by Brown to coordinate federal recovery operations. Martinasco said that affected residents and business owners in Burlington and Camden counties can begin the disaster application process by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will be available starting tomorrow from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.
On March 1, 2003, FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. FEMA's continuing mission within the new department is to lead the effort to prepare the nation for all hazards and effectively manage federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates proactive mitigation activities, trains first responders, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.