EATONTOWN, N.J. – When the NJ-Sandy Recovery Office moved from their previous facility in Lincroft to new office space in Eatontown last June, FEMA’s state partners moved their offices, too.
FEMA’s key partners in the state Office of Emergency Management work just down the hall from their FEMA colleagues in the new facility.
That proximity is a big plus when it comes to sharing expertise and working together to resolve any potential stumbling block.“There is a collaborative spirit between FEMA and the state government, working on behalf of all of the applicants who require assistance,” said N.J. Recovery Bureau Chief Captain Joseph Geleta following a recent Command Staff meeting at the SRFO.
“You still have FEMA and state teams mirroring each other to help many who were affected by Sandy. It’s not just the state doing something or FEMA doing something, it’s working together.”
Captain Geleta, a veteran of many previous disasters in New Jersey, said the successful collaboration between FEMA and New Jersey is inspired by a mutual commitment to the mission.
"The SRFO is a key component in sustaining the Sandy recovery efforts here in New Jersey,” Captain Geleta said.
“Having FEMA and the State working together under one roof creates a single, comprehensive approach to fulfilling Public Assistance, Mitigation, and Individual Assistance missions.”The close collaboration has also helped to build trust and forge friendships. “We have all created personal relationships with our program counterparts here at the SRO,” Captain Geleta noted.
For State Individual Assistance Branch Director Laura Connolly, working closely with her FEMA partners at the SRFO offices has helped the recovery mission operate more efficiently across the board.
"The SRFO is a key component in sustaining the Sandy recovery efforts here in New Jersey,” Connolly said. “FEMA and the State working together under one roof creates a single comprehensive approach to fulfilling Public Assistance, Mitigation, and Individual Assistance missions. We have all created personal relationships with our program counterparts, which fosters continued interested participation during this phase of the disaster. The free coffee is an amazing perk as well!"
Public Assistance Unit Head for the state of New Jersey Lt. Patrick Gorman, works closely with his FEMA counterpart, Infrastructure Branch Director Doug Westermann.“The relationship has been phenomenal. It’s kind of like we’ve developed total quality management. In a lot of states, it’s the state against FEMA. But when you’re face to face with people who are like-minded in solving problems, it’s just much easier.”
“That kind of relationship is a win-win for the people of New Jersey,” said Captain Geleta.
“The relationship that we have with Pat and his group has been second to none,” said PA Branch Director Westermann. “Without the state’s cooperation, we might have been going down two different paths, but with their cooperation, we are going down a single path.”
“The incredible partnership that has been built here will benefit the people of New Jersey for many years to come,” said NJ-SRO Director John Covell.
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