Besieged by Silk City flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, Paterson Mayor Jeff Jones said he intends to welcome President Barack Obama this Sunday “with open arms.”
“If there are political differences existing, let them be,” Jones told PolitickerNJ.com. “They should not affect what is happening here. We are the first planned industrial city, and if this catastrophe brings us back to the touchstone of America, then so be it. What can we do to fix the flooding problem we have? We have a national park we are trying to put in place. There are so many pieces to look at, and I hope the end result is dialogue and long-term planning.”
Presiding over a city underwater, Jones said he personally has not received confirmation from the White House that Obama will be in Paterson to survey flood damage where 4,000 people have been displaced from their homes.
“But I guess I should believe he’s coming,” said the mayor, who today met with Department of Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano, Gov. Chris Christie, U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), and U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-8). “My feet are firmly planted on the ground.”
Of immediate concern, said Jones, are those residents who stayed in their homes during the flooding who do not have access to the services afforded those residents who went to the shelter buildings.
“Whether they left their homes or not they are still disaffected, and we are trying to get services to them even though technically they’re not eligible for food and services like the people in the shelters,” the mayor said. “It’s a very real issue. Whether you go to the shelter or you stay at home, we have to think about getting those trucks to the neighborhoods.”
Jones added, “I’m tired, but i got a crackerjack staff and we’ve made do with nothing. We’re doing our best. I can’t be more proud of the team.”