Another hard-hit county in North Jersey is a step closer to being added as a federal disaster area, clearing the way for emergency funding to be distributed to residents and businesses.

On Wednesday, Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo announced on Facebook that Essex County was “now eligible to receive aid.”

He previously shared photos of Federal Emergency Management Agency officials to his official Facebook page, as they toured parts of Millburn, Newark, Bloomfield, South Orange and Nutley to survey storm damages.

However, the county had not been declared a major disaster area, yet, according to FEMA.

"Preliminary Damage Assessments (PDAs) were just completed yesterday for Essex County," a spokesperson said in an email response on Wednesday to New Jersey 101.5.

"Now that the information has been gathered for the assessment, the state (New Jersey) will use the info to determine whether to make an official request for federal assistance," the spokesperson continued.

The first six counties in the state declared by FEMA as major disaster areas following Ida were Gloucester, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Somerset, Passaic and Bergen.

Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Deanne Criswell said on Tuesday that more than 7,000 families already had applied for individual assistance, adding “That number will continue to grow.”

FEMA staff were doing assessments in Essex, Hudson, Union and Mercer counties, Criswell continued, “to really get a better understanding of the scope of the impact that communities are experiencing across New Jersey.”

People in those designated counties can register at disasterassistance.gov, through the FEMA app or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA, or 1-800-621-3362.

The state also has a “landing place” website, NJ.gov/Ida, for residents dealing with storm damages in counties not yet under a FEMA declaration, as repeated by Gov. Phil Murphy at a state briefing on Wednesday.

In addition to surveys still being finalized in Hudson, Essex, Mercer and Union, FEMA damage assessments were now being done in Burlington, Monmouth and Morris counties, State Police Superintendent Col. Patrick Callahan said at the state briefing on Wednesday.

Warren County also had a preliminary joint assessment meeting with federal and state officials, he added.

EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this report should have said that FEMA has not yet declared Essex County a disaster area even though the county executive’s Facebook message claimed that Essex was eligible for aid.

With previous reporting by Michael Symons


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