The weekend’s harsh weather with Hurricane Irene hitting the state and East Coast was only the beginning. As bad as the rain and wind was from Saturday into Sunday, the aftermath has proved to be that much worse. This Examiner has seen some of the roads near him in Passaic County and footage seen on local and national news stations shows the destruction and conditions on a amplified level. Governor Chris Christie has been busy since last Thursday from warning individuals near the coast to evacuate to closing roads to deciphering where the hardest hit areas in the state are. He has given briefs and talked to several state and national officials.
However, as he tours the state, he is grasping for more assistance. Some assistance from President Barack Obama, a man he has publicly criticized during his short tenure as governor. Nonetheless, the president is working just as hard if not harder on a national scale accessing not just the damage done to New Jersey, but the damage done in states from North Carolina up to Vermont.
As conditions have rapidly gotten worse with rivers cresting, Christie is seeking “an expedited declaration of a major disaster for the entire State of New Jersey from the federal government to assist state and local governments, as well as individually affected residents, to receive federal assistance as quickly as possible.”
Furthermore, Christie wrote the president,
“Hurricane Irene was a catastrophe of enormous severity and magnitude and the storm conditions required emergency shelters to be established in 16 counties to house nearly16,000 evacuees, while over 700,000 residences suffered power outages. Torrential rains have caused significant flooding in areas across the state, impacting residences, major and local roads, and necessitating highway closures and a suspension of rail services. Recovery efforts are still ongoing in the aftermath of the disaster. In light of these conditions and the serious impact they are having on New Jersey’s communities, field damage assessments should not be required to determine the State’s eligibility for supplemental federal assistance. Immediate federal assistance is needed now to give New Jersey’s residents a helping hand at an emotionally and financially devastating time.”
Christie is not alone in his concerns for the state and necessity for President Obama to pay a visit or provide the necessary resources to the Garden State. The state’s two U.S. Senators, Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ), echoed Christie’s calls for the federal government led by Obama to put New Jersey near the top of the priority list as his administration does make those accessments up and down the East Coast.
Like Christie, the two Democrats wrote Obama. As they expressed,
“The destruction will lead to severe hardship and the costs will be so great that many residents will not be able to rebuild their lives on their own. In addition, Hurricane Irene caused extensive damage to public infrastructure such as roads, bridges, public parks and government facilities, and local governments will face enormous challenges as they try to rebuild. Given the severe nature of the hurricane and the extent of the damage, we ask that you immediately grant a Major Disaster Declaration for New Jersey and expedite federal recovery and rebuilding aid.”
The governor and U.S. senators were joined by Congressman Frank Pallone (D-NJ6) in writing to President Obama seeking assistance. Pallone’s district was one of the hardest hit as he serves parts of Middlesex and Monmouth Counties that saw severe flooding in the wake of Hurricane Irene. For Pallone,
“Since Hurricane Katrina, it is clear federal and state governments have made significant improvements in disaster preparedness. Coordination between federal and state officials was well-organized and I was struck by the number of New Jerseyans that heeded the calls to evacuate threatened areas. Despite our best planning, however, flooding has damaged homes, businesses and roads in my district and across the state.”
The damage and flooding only increased Tuesday in parts of the state while other areas are seeing conditions start to turn around for the better. With another potential hurricane brewing on the horizon, the quicker the state and national officials can access the current damage; the quicker the state can 1) get back on track and 2) be prepared in case a second storm does indeed target New Jersey. For now, residents need to just heed the warnings issued and follow the necessary instructions as all involved properly access the current conditions.