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NJ May be a Disaster Area, but Middlesex County Didn't Make the Cut

Along with Union and Hunterdon counties, Middlesex County isn't a disaster area, according to the White House's named designation - and that could mean that area residents miss out on grants and low interest loans for hurricane relief.

President Obama may have because of Hurricane Irene, but that isn't going to be much comfort to Middlesex County homeowners whose residences experienced damage in the storm.

That's because neither Middlesex or Union counties are included in the list of afflicted counties in which property owners and businesses can apply for and get grants and low interest loans to repair the destruction wrought by the hurricane.

Rep. Leonard Lance (NJ-07) made a special appeal to the White House to add Middlesex and Union counties, as well as Hunterdon County - areas all within Lance's 7th congressional district - to the list of areas in the state who will qualify for individual relief.

“Over the past four days I have tirelessly toured my congressional district and personally seen first-hand the devastation inflicted upon so many towns in Hunterdon, Middlesex and Union counties," over the pass several days and said he saw "first-hand the devastation" inflicted on municipalities within the district.  

"I have personally witnessed devastated communities, heard the pleas of individuals who have had their residences and businesses destroyed, talked with mayors and public safety officials who say responding and rebuilding is beyond they own abilities and resources.  It is imperative that all 7th District counties receive this important federal designation," Lance said in a statement.

The mayors of Carteret, Rahway, and Perth Amboy all declared a state of emergency within their towns when the storm hit. There was no issuance of an by Woodbridge's mayor, John McCormac.

Town spokesman John Hagerty said that while Irene was a storm of "devastating destruction, Woodbridge emerged relatively unscathed."

"It's too early in the process. We are gathering damage assessments. We will submit what we need to submit to the county," Hagerty said.

During the storm, as many as 80 percent of Woodbridge residents experienced a . In some cases, the for days, which caused sump pumps to stop working and basements to be flooded. Other areas of the township which during normal storms resembled lakes after Irene cut her swath through Woodbridge.

Most of the township has had their , according to PSE&G reports. 

As of now, Woodbridge is still "accessing the situation," Hagerty said about the township gathering storm damage information to report to county Office of Emergency Management officials. These reports build the case for a county receiving the disaster area designation and resultant FEMA help.

Lance's office has asked that FEMA officials move the area's affected municipalities "higher up on the radar" so they can be visited and assessed by the agency's representatives.

"It doesn't mean that these counties won't be added as disaster areas to the counties who already have that designation," said Lance's communication director Angie Lundberg. "We've asked them to expedite their review."

Counties that have received disaster area status are Bergen, Essex, Morris, Passaic, and Somerset counties. That, Lundberg said, makes them eligible for a variety of federal grants and loans to cover uninsured losses.

Art Finkel September 01, 2011 at 08:04 PM
My neighborhood in Monroe Township has extensive damage. While many residents were spared, it is heartbreaking to see homes with furniture, carpets, etc. on the curbs and lawns. Tell those people that there is no disaster here.
brittany September 02, 2011 at 02:12 AM
I have to agree with Art. I am from monroe township, and many people lost entire homes and belongings - including my family. Seriously children and adults have lost as much as the counties that were declared. It is unfair if Monroe doesnt get the help that others have. More than furniture and carpets were on the curb. Family treasures, food and much much more was lost. I hope these people get the support they need.
Meredith Chesney September 02, 2011 at 02:32 AM
Same goes for Spotswood. There are dozens of homes destroyed. Hundreds of people are homeless because of this disaster. To top it off, there was no evacuation order EVER. 45 minute waits with 911 only to learn that there was nobody to rescue you. FRIENDS with small boats came to pull people to safety. It's a total failure from the top down. I wonder if Mr Pucci, or whoever the Mayor of Spotswood , might not be pressing hard enough with his county legislators, Christie, Obama, and FEMA to see that his town is declared a Disaster Area.
Kristen Hendricks September 02, 2011 at 03:50 AM
This disaster didn't affect me as much as others but I am still extremely upset about it and it actually makes me quite angry that the residents of Middlesex County who have lost so much won't be able to get help from FEMA especially since many of them don't have Flood Insurance. I pray that the government officials will change their minds and declare Middlesex County a disaster area because from what I have seen it most certainly should be declared one.
Tom Maras September 02, 2011 at 12:50 PM
McCormac and Hagerty must really think Woodbridge is "The Magic Kingdom"! Other mayor's worry about and fight for their communities, and what does Woodbridge get: The mayors of Carteret, Rahway, and Perth Amboy all declared a state of emergency within their towns when the storm hit. There was no issuance of an emergency declaration by Woodbridge's mayor, John McCormac. Town spokesman John Hagerty said that while Irene was a storm of "devastating destruction, Woodbridge emerged relatively unscathed." "It's too early in the process. We are gathering damage assessments. We will submit what we need to submit to the county," Hagerty said. Perhaps, if Hagerty actually lived in the township, he might have a better grip on what the residents of the township went through during and after Irene. But, hay, what could go wrong in the Magic Kingdom?

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