N.J. seeks disaster declaration for rain-soaked counties

TRENTON  – Gov. Chris Christie announced today that the state is seeking from the Federal Emergency Management  Agency a Major Disaster Declaration for New Jersey counties hit hard by the heavy rain storms and flooding that began on Aug. 13.

The rainfall totals exceeded 11 inches in some areas of Southern New Jersey, according to the governor’s office.

“Based on the information and data available, it is evident that the disaster is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the state and the affected local governments and that federal assistance is necessary,” Christie said in a release.

“While New Jersey is accustomed to emergencies arising from severe weather conditions, the scope and intensity of this storm were unprecedented. Today, we are taking the next steps needed to assist New Jerseyans in these affected counties and ensure that we get every dollar of additional aid to the areas where we need it most.”

The state is seeking federal assistance for  Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem counties and may  add  more counties after damage assessments are  completed. Federal assistance may be available for infrastructure, public property damage, hazard mitigation, or direct assistance to residents in the form of grants or loans.

Christie also sent a letter to United States Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack, requesting the issuance of a natural disaster designation for damages incurred during the 2011 growing season in seventeen counties. These damages, in addition to some localized loss of livestock, were caused by excessive rain, high winds, localized flooding and extreme heat.

“Severe weather conditions that commenced on May 14, 2011 and continue to this day have adversely impacted New Jersey farmers this growing season, causing substantial crop damage,”  Christie said in his letter.

“A natural disaster designation will enable New Jersey farmers to apply for emergency loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency and for other relief that may be made available from the federal government.”

That disaster designation request covers losses from May 14 to the present. Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren counties were included in the request.

N.J. seeks disaster declaration for rain-soaked counties