PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides a helping hand to New Jersey communities, county and state agencies and some private nonprofit organizations that were damaged by the April nor'easter storm.
Disasters threaten more than homes. Bridges can be damaged or destroyed along with highways, public buildings, parks and water treatment plants. Tons of debris can be left or communications and emergency services can be disrupted.
"By helping local and state governments and looking for ways to reduce future damages, federal disaster assistance has an impact on every individual in those communities," said Peter Martinasco, federal coordinating officer.
Under the presidential disaster declaration of April 26, Public Assistance is available to local governments in Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Essex, Hudson, Mercer, Middlesex, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren counties. To date 308 communities and state agencies have filed Requests for Public Assistance (RPA) to initiate a disaster claim.
The New Jersey Office of Emergency Management (NJOEM), which administers the Public Assistance program has briefed local officials on the assistance available and how to apply. Community officials who wish to file a RPA may contact the NJOEM Public Assistance staff at 609-882-2000 ext. 2500 to receive information about the process.
Federal, state and local teams have already started to inspect disaster-related damage, examine expenses identified by the state or local representatives and prepare reports that outline the scope of repair work needed and the estimated restoration cost.
For projects that are approved, FEMA will pay 75 percent of the cost and the state reimburses the remaining 25 percent. These projects typically include debris removal, emergency services related to the flooding and repairing or replacing damaged public facilities. The latter category includes schools, libraries and other public buildings, repairing roads, bridges, water control facilities, utilities and recreational facilities.
Nonprofit organizations may qualify for assistance to restore certain types of facilities that include educational, utility, emergency, medical, custodial care and other facilities that provide essential government types of services.
Hazard mitigation, another assistance program, identifies areas where local or state governments can prevent or reduce damages in future flooding. This mitigation may take the form of flood-proofing, moving structures, lining ditches, building bigger culverts, and redesigning bridges to withstand greater flows.
State and local governments work together to identify projects where hazard mitigation programs can be most useful, cost effective and have the greatest impact. All the projects submitted are reviewed by an interagency steering committee made up of representatives from state and federal agencies. The projects are administered by the NJOEM. For projects chosen, 75 percent of the funding comes from FEMA's Hazard Mitigation program.
FEMA and NJOEM work together to coordinate the federal and state governments' roles in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.