Yesterday, New jersey Governor Chris Christie sent a letter to President Obama requesting an expedited declaration of a major disaster for the entire State of New Jersey from the federal government to assist state and local governments, as well as individually affected residents, to receive federal assistance as quickly as possible. Hurricane Irene was a catastrophe of enormous severity and magnitude and the storm conditions required emergency shelters to be established in 16 counties to house nearly16,000 evacuees, while over 700,000 residences suffered power outages. Torrential rains have caused significant flooding in areas across the state, impacting residences, major and local roads, and necessitating highway closures and a suspension of rail services. Recovery efforts are still ongoing in the aftermath of the disaster.
In light of these conditions and the serious impact they are having on New Jersey’s communities, field damage assessments should not be required to determine the State’s eligibility for supplemental federal assistance. Immediate federal assistance is needed now to give New Jersey’s residents a helping hand at an emotionally and financially devastating time.