FEMA assistance for housing, emergency repairs, road and highway debris removal, medical assistance, transportation, and even funeral expenses continue to be paid out in the state of New Jersey following Hurricane Sandy.
FEMA has approved more than $300 million in housing assistance for more than 52,000 people. Housing assistance includes temporary rental assistance and grants to repair and replace storm-damaged primary residences.
FEMA has provided temporary housing to Sandy survivors in only rare cases. Empty apartments at Fort Monmouth are being renovated to house some survivors. More than 40 apartments there are occupied and when work is complete, there will be 115 units ranging from one bedroom to four bedrooms. FEMA is also installing a limited number of manufactured homes at commercial mobile home parks. Generally, those still unable to return home are urged to seek housing with relatives or friends. However hundreds of still homeless residents have complained about the limited housing funding, with many unable to find a spare bedroom with family or friends and unable to afford extended hotel stays.
Governor Christie has just approved new building regulations to assist residents and business owners in rebuilding. These regulations establish requirements and more efficient procedures for residents and businesses to construct, reconstruct, relocate and elevate buildings and other structures in flood hazard areas. Using the best available science and data will give families, businesses, and communities the best assessment of their risk – allowing them to better mitigate damage from future flood events, avoid higher flood insurance costs, and begin the rebuilding process immediately. The new standards are intended to lower premiums in the long term.
The U.S. Small Business Administration has approved $277 million in loans to homeowners and renters and $31.7 million for New Jersey businesses.
State and local governments have received $129 million to help remove hurricane debris and restore disaster-damaged roads, bridges and other infrastructure. Among the largest grants was $11.2 million to the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission for emergency repairs to a wastewater treatment plant that serves 48 communities and treats 330 million gallons of sewage daily.
FEMA and federal partners such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have helped local communities replace critical facilities damaged by the hurricane. The Sea Bright Fire Department, for example, was knocked out of commission by storm damage. The Corps set up a temporary fire station with a four-bay fire truck tent and a 56-foot trailer in a beach access parking lot.
Applications for FEMA assistance for NJ residents will be accepted through March 1, 2013.