Thousands of NJ flood victims left in limbo with few options
As the Federal Emergency Management Agency opens help centers in New Jersey in counties included in President Joe Biden's disaster declaration, local officials in counties excluded from the president's order are furious they have been left behind.
It is possible that the Major Disaster Declaration could be expanded, and Gov. Phil Murphy has said he expects it will be. In the meantime, direct disaster assistance is not accessible for residents in Union and Hudson counties. Both Union and Hudson faced severe flooding after being deluged by up to 10 inches of rain.
Clark Mayor Sal Bonaccorso told Patch that he is "appalled" that “Union County has been left to fend for itself."
The Mayor of Garwood, Sara Todisco, says she has sent a letter to President Biden detailing the plight of residents and hoping to convince him to expand his disaster declaration.
New Jersey's congressional delegation and state leaders have also been lobbying the Biden administration to expand the order, and remain confident he will.
In the meantime, Murphy is encouraging all residents who suffered damage, to log it at the state's disaster website so they can expedite help when it becomes available.
Bergen, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Passaic and Somerset counties were part of the president's declaration. Other hard hit areas like Hudson, Essex, Union and Morris counties were not part of the order, despite suffering catastrophic flooding.
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fullop remains optimistic that Hudson County will be named a "Major Disaster Area" soon.
FEMA investigators remain in the state doing further damage assessments. That is little consolation, however, for families that have lost everything and need immediate assistance. There is some help available from the state. Details on how to access that can be found here.