AROUND NJ

Federal Assistance Available for Hurricane Sandy Victims

By Senior Correspondent Desirée Taylor
NJ Today

More than 210,000 New Jersey residents affected by Superstorm Sandy have registered with FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency. That’s one of many figures U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told the media after she, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and other federal and local officials toured a joint operational center in Middletown today.

“More than $186 million has already been awarded for individual assistance,” said Secretary Napolitano.

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There are also 25 Disaster Recovery Centers in New Jersey covering every county in the state. That’s where people affected by the storm can register with FEMA. Or they can call 1-800-621-3362 or apply online at DisasterAssistance.gov. Via smartphone, it’s m.fema.gov.

FEMA offers help in a variety of ways. People who were displaced by the storm can get financial assistance to pay for hotels and motels as well as rent. And there are still at least seven shelters open in the state. FHA loans are available.

But there are some storm victims who say they’re not getting the help they need from FEMA. Among them, homeowners who have vacation homes that were damaged by the storm. And renters who had been living in basement or garden apartments.

“FEMA has to look at a this issue in a more diverse way,” said U.S. Senator Bob Menendez. He believes the rules either need to be changed or a legislative remedy may be necessary.

U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg says he and Sen. Menendez will make sure New Jersey has the federal resources needed to rebuild storm ravaged areas of the state.