Reps. Josh Gottheimer and Bill Pascrell, Jr., in conjunction with Sens. Bon Menendez and Cory Booker, were able to secure about $2.4 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) public assistance grants to the Bergen County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) to bolster response efforts in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
The funding for the county, facing 13,000 confirmed cases across 70 municipalities, was on top of $64 million secured from FEMA to boost the state’s response to the pandemic.
“It is vital that we get federal investment to every community in New Jersey, so that we can continue working to keep our residents safe and protected,” said Rep. Gottheimer. “This investment will help ensure that Bergen County has the resources it needs to continue fighting this outbreak and that our first responders and front-line healthcare workers have the support they need to do their jobs safely and effectively,”
Pascrell Leads Charge
Rep. Pascrell lauded the courage of New Jersey’s first responders, towns, and counties in the face of the coronavirus, but noted they needed financial assistance to continue the fight.
“Without it, New Jersey counties and towns won’t be able to defeat this virus and reopen,” said Rep. Pascrell, referencing the funding.
The lawmaker led 175 Democratic and Republican members of the House calling on FEMA to eliminate certain cost-sharing obligations. He argued the move would provide the flexibility states needed to battle the virus.
Sen. Booker echoed Pascrell’s recognition of New Jersey citizens responding to the challenge. “Bergen County healthcare professionals, first responders, and other frontline workers continue to show great courage in containing the spread of this virus,” he said.
Still Not Enough Funding
Under current rules, the funding awarded by FEMA represents only 75% of the total costs incurred by Bergen County OEM. By law, grant awardees are required to pay the remaining 25%.
The $2 trillion federal emergency stimulus package included $45 billion destined for the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund. The funding was designed to provide funding for immediate needs and essential services as citizens contend with the outbreak.
“Bergen County has been one of the hardest hit areas in our state and the nation. These critical federal dollars will provide those who risk their own well-being with the resources necessary to continue to fight the pandemic and protect the health and safety of county residents,” said Sen. Menendez.