ENVIRONMENT

New Jersey sends assistance to Texas amid Harvey devastation

BY Brenda Flanagan, Senior Correspondent |

With rain still falling and flood waters still rising, Texas issued a desperate call for assistance, and New Jersey responded. Last night, Gov. Chris Christie deployed New Jersey’s Task Force One Urban Search and Rescue Unit, to help pluck people out of flooded cars and buildings. Texas will no doubt also ask for billions in federal aid, but Christie has not forgotten that Texas representatives voted against the $60 billion Sandy aid package when New Jersey’s need was dire.

“The Congress members in Texas are hypocrites. And, I said in 2012, they’d be proven to be hypocrites. It was just a matter of time. When you’re a state with any coastal exposure, like Texas is to the Gulf, you’re going to wind up having some type of disaster that’s going to befall the people of your state. Then all of a sudden you’re not going to want conversation of philosophical niceties — because people are suffering and dying. And you want to make sure you minimize that as much as you can,” he said.

“We were the disaster that was the longest in waiting in getting federal aid, and I hope that’s not what happens to the folks in Texas and Harvey,” continued Christie.

But Christie said, he will urge all of New Jersey’s Congressional delegation to vote for Harvey aid to Texas. Rep. Bill Pascrell, who represents the 9th District, Monday said, he will. And, that he believed the president will be pressed to sign off on it.

“The sentiment will be so strong, I don’t believe he will be able to withstand that. Even our president,” said Pascrell. “If we’re not helping one another, we wouldn’t be Americans. America. So we help one another. That’s what we do. We’re good at it.”

Pascrell had just helped convince FEMA to remove some Paterson residents from flood zones, saving them thousands of dollars in flood insurance they don’t need.

But, Acting Chief for Risk Analysis Branch for FEMA Andrew Martin, talked about the extensive flooding in Texas

“Hurricane Harvey is sitting on top of Texas right now, with dangerous flooding and catastrophic damage that continues and will, for the next several days. The flooding that’s happened there is extensive, and is pushing well beyond the boundaries of the existing flood insurance rate maps in Southeast Texas. The risk is real and it is ever-present,” he said.

FEMA sent 75 staff members from its New York/New Jersey regional offices and Martin says at least 1,000 are already on the ground in Texas. They’re joined by 20 volunteers from New Jersey’s Red Cross, which is also preparing its emergency response vehicles for travel.

“Our care kits will have anything from clean up items that they might need to help them in their homes. All sorts of supplies that will help them with, like gloves, materials to clean in their homes, as well as feeding. So we will be providing meals, canvassing neighborhoods, water supply, as well,” said New Jersey Red Cross CEO Ana Montero.

When Hurricane Sandy hit, emergency response crews from across the U.S. responded. Cops from Michigan guarded neighborhoods. Utility trucks from Georgia restored power. Now, emergency responders say, it’s time for New Jersey to help.