Two North Jersey State Senators joined the chorus of lawmakers looking to have Morris and Essex counties receive the major disaster declaration from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
(1:30 p.m. Sept. 10 Update: After this article was published, Gov. Phil Murphy announced that Essex, Hudson, Mercer, and Union counties received Major Disaster Declaration for Ida damages from FEMA. Morris County still has not)
State Sens. Joe Pennacchio (R-26) and Kristin Corrado (R-40) called on the agency to release the funds to help with Tropical Storm Ida recovery efforts, and to better prepare flood mitigation plans for future storms.
“It’s extremely disappointing that President Biden didn’t declare a Major Disaster Area for Morris County following Hurricane Ida and his visit to New Jersey,” said Pennacchio
“I am shocked and disappointed that both Essex and Morris counties were not declared major disaster areas by FEMA,” added Corrado. “The damage left by Tropical Storm Ida was quite severe, and many people in those counties require substantial federal assistance for recovery efforts.”
Pennacchio Goes to Bat for Morris County
Pennacchio criticized New Jersey’s Congressional representatives for doing too little to secure funding for Morris County, instead just “settled for a photo op with the President.”
Furthermore, the GOP lawmaker argued Morris County not being declared a Major Disaster Area by the Biden Administration was part of a larger trend: the county also did not receive tens of millions of dollars of direct COVID-19 relief funds from the CARES Act because the county was a few thousand residents short of a funding threshold.
“Our residents don’t deserve to be ignored when federal relief funds are being delivered to other hard-hit counties on our borders. We’re right in the middle of the devastation,” he said.
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Pennacchio, who has sponsored two bills to address flooding, urged Gov. Phil Murphy to act upon them. One would put a ballot initiative before voters to fund flood control projects across the state, while the other would establish a state fund to help homeowners in flood-prone areas to lift their homes.
Corrado Highlights Essex’s Needs after Ida
Meanwhile, Corrado expressed her frustration with both Essex and Morris counties failing to receive Major Disaster Area declarations as it hurts residents of these counties who had their homes and businesses damaged.
“I visited several towns in both counties to survey the damage and noticed immediately that there were numerous homes and small businesses that were permanently damaged from extreme flooding,” he said.
FEMA issued the declaration status to Somerset, Passaic, Middlesex, Hunterdon, Gloucester, and Bergen counties, and citizens within the affected areas can register for direct assistance for Ida-related recovery.
“It is my hope that, as FEMA continues its damage assessments, both Essex and Morris counties will be considered major disaster areas,” added Corrado. “There are people and small businesses there that truly need federal aid and many will simply not be able to recover without it.”