PATERSON - U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-08) today submitted a letter to President Obama requesting a major disaster declaration for Bergen and Passaic Counties as a result of damages sustained by Hurricane Sandy. The northern New Jersey counties were not included in the major disaster declaration for the State of New Jersey issued by the President yesterday because damage assessments were still ongoing.
Since the declaration was issued, a levee on the Hackensack River broke, leaving Moonachie, Little Ferry and Carlstadt underwater. Efforts are currently underway to rescue residents from floodwaters. Rep. Pascrell is onsite this morning with local officials assessing damages.
"I commend President Obama for his fast response to the Governor's request for federal assistance in New Jersey, but additional resources are required in northern New Jersey due to damage sustained by Hurricane Sandy," said Rep. Pascrell. "As a result of a levee breach on the Hackensack River, residents in Moonachie, Carlstadt and Little Ferry are stranded and in desperate need of assistance. I want to ensure local governments and first responders have the federal government's support in their efforts to keep residents safe and help the long term recovery after this storm."
Rep. Pascrell has been updated by regional FEMA officials through the morning, who assured him that damage assessments will continue in relation to extending disaster declaration to additional counties in New Jersey. FEMA officials have had to relocate from their New York headquarters to a facility in Colts Neck due to the effects of Hurricane Sandy
A copy of the letter from Rep. Pascrell is below:
October 30, 2012
The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington DC 20500
Dear President Obama:
I am writing to request that you extend an Emergency Declaration for Individual and Public Assistance to Bergen and Passaic Counties in New Jersey, to assist in the recovery from the severe damage caused by Hurricane Sandy on October 29th, 2012.
I appreciate your quick approval of New Jersey’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration. However, I am extremely concerned that Bergen and Passaic Counties were not included in the initial emergency declaration. I understand that a review of the damage in these counties is ongoing, and that they may be added to the emergency declaration. I ask that you extend assistance to Bergen and Passaic counties as soon as possible.
There are reports of over 150,000 people without power in Bergen and Passaic counties. The storm also caused massive flooding that caused a levee break on the Hackensack River, forcing the evacuation of residents in Moonachie. There are reports of extensive flooding in Lyndhurst, Little Ferry, Carlstadt, and towns along the Passaic River as well.
As a result of the heavy rain and high winds, it is possible that thousands of residents in Bergen and Passaic counties will be without power, water or heat for days, and downed trees and wires will restrict travel. Furthermore, county and local governments have incurred millions of dollars in public infrastructure damage, and will be sure to incur millions more in recovery and reconstruction costs.
It is clear from the magnitude of the damage that recovery efforts will be beyond the means of state and local budgets, and many residents will need individual assistance to rebuild their homes. Our communities will need federal help to rebuild and recover from this severe storm.
Thank you for your timely consideration of this urgent request.
Bill Pascrell, Jr.
Member of Congress