LINCROFT, N.J. – On the evening of October 29, Hurricane Sandy made landfall along the New Jersey coast resulting in the most damaging disaster in state history. Since then, Federal funds obligated to assist the residents and communities in the state have totaled more than $730 million.
The federal effort deployed to assist the state included 18 agencies with more than 2,600 personnel. In addition, under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), 12 states have deployed
440 personnel and equipment to support New Jersey. This includes law enforcement teams providing security and emergency medical services supporting sheltering and other life support needs.
The New Jersey National Guard responded with a force of over 2,200 Guardsmen to support response efforts throughout the state. For New Jersey, it was the largest mobilization of National Guardsmen to a domestic emergency and the largest humanitarian effort the state has orchestrated. The Guard rescued more than 7,000 residents and their pets, operated three fuel distribution points, transported and delivered tens of thousands of basic needs commodities to armories within communities impacted by the storm and provided approximately 250 hours of helicopter lift support to civilian authorities.
Even before Sandy made landfall, FEMA positioned food, water and blankets and deployed experts from several federal agencies to New Jersey, including the U.S. Coast Guard and other components of the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Energy, and Housing and Urban Development to provide resources and guidance to the state. Together, critical life-saving needs were provided in the immediate aftermath: emergency medical care, search and rescue, power generators in critical facilities, fuel for first responders.
FEMA also has issued 235 mission assignments to support disaster response and recovery needs, totaling nearly $250 million in projected assistance. This includes federal operational support (support among federal agencies) totaling $67.8 million, technical assistance support (federal support to the state) of $11.2 million such as the expertise brought to New Jersey to support assessment of critical infrastructure throughout the state, and direct federal assistance of nearly $170.0 million.
Immediately following Hurricane Sandy’s landfall, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), working with FEMA and local and state authorities, identified critical locations that needed temporary emergency power. They installed 102 emergency generators between Oct. 31 and Nov. 19 to provide life-saving power to 9-1-1 centers, police and fire stations and medical facilities; life-sustaining facilities such as shelters, water and wastewater treatment and pumping facilities; and other municipal facilities required to reinstitute local command and control and post-event recovery.
FEMA and local and state authorities turned to USACE for its extensive experience removing debris following natural disasters, assigning a debris management technical assistance mission in New Jersey Nov. 6. USACE placed debris subject matter experts in Monmouth, Ocean, Atlantic, Bergen, Hudson, Essex, Middlesex and Union counties working with FEMA, state, county and local authorities to assess the quantities and types of debris and recommend courses of action for its removal. Quantities of various types of debris are still being calculated but are estimated to total around 6.2 million cubic yards, or enough debris to fill the MetLife stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
The U.S. Fire Service provided 26 chainsaw teams totaling 520 personnel to assist with tree removal in neighborhoods throughout the state. They also provided four Incident Management Teams who assisted the state Fire Marshal with fire coordination and fire planning response.
President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan, Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank, Deputy National Security Advisor John O. Brennan, Deputy Transportation Secretary John Pocari, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Commander Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick have toured damaged New Jersey communities and met with local leaders and emergency responders to view recovery efforts while vowing to bring all available resources to bear to support state and local partners in assisting survivors in the 21 counties designated for assistance.
“FEMA and the entire federal family have been our partners from the beginning,” said State Coordinating Officer Lt. Jeff Mottley. “They anticipated many of our needs and when there were challenges, they quickly offered solutions.”
“Getting survivors the assistance they need has been our top priority from the beginning,” said Federal Coordinating Officer Michael J. Hall. “When families and businesses begin to recover, whole communities begin to recover. The faster we can get recovery dollars into the hands of survivors and reimburse communities for disaster expenses, the faster they will move forward in their healing.”
In the first 30 days, FEMA provided $286 million to assist individuals and families repair damaged homes, find temporary housing and assist with expenses such as medical and dental bills. More than 46,000 New Jersey families have benefitted from that assistance so far.
Restoring power to over 2.6 million homes, businesses and government customers represented a critical priority. The Department of Energy worked closely with the state Board of Public Utilities to coordinate the power restoration. Demonstrating a true whole community response, over 23,000 utility professionals came together from New Jersey’s utility companies and, through mutual aid agreements with companies across the country, worked to restore service across the state.
To meet a critical need at a critical time, nearly 3,000 families have taken advantage of the Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program by lodging in 340 hotels during the first four-week period.
Helping disaster survivors who were displaced from their homes due to damage or power loss find safe and secure shelter is a key priority of the response. At peak of sheltering operations, 107 shelters were open with 4,370 people. Through efforts across federal, state, local, private sector and voluntary agencies, the last of the shelters closed on November 21.
The U.S. Small Business Administration has opened 10 Business Recovery Centers in the state to provide one-on-one help to business owners seeking disaster assistance and has approved more than $21 million in disaster loans to both individuals and businesses.
The first FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers opened just days after the storm passed and continue to assist survivors at more than 36 locations where nearly 25,000 residents have been offered assistance and information about their recovery.
More than 650 FEMA community relations specialists have met with more than 86,000 storm survivors while going door-to-door. In total, nearly 150,000 homes were visited delivering information vital to disaster survivor’s recovery.
Even as Sandy was making its way up the east coast, FEMA and the Department of Defense established Incident Support Bases at Westover, Mass. and Lakehurst, New Jersey to position supplies and other resources close to areas in the hurricane’s path. Following the storm, more than 1.7 million meals and 2.6 million snacks have been served to survivors and first responders.
The Department of Health and Human Services deployed hundreds of personnel, including five Disaster Medical Assistance Teams and three Public Health Strike Teams to support hospitals and shelters in New Jersey. In total they were able to assist more than 750 people with medical needs.
FEMA also has teamed with the private sector network of business, industry, academia, trade associations, and other non-governmental organizations as equal partners in assisting with Sandy recovery.
The storm impact on New Jersey was historic in its severity. Storm surge impacts of up to 11 feet battered the coastline and wave heights of more than 14 feet were recorded. Peak wind gusts of 88 mph were clocked in Essex County. The devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy affected, damaged or destroyed more than 122,000 structures throughout all 21 counties.
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