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(3rd LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT) – Senate President Steve Sweeney, Assembly Deputy Speaker John J. Burzichelli and Assemblywoman Celeste Riley on Monday called on Gov. Chris Christie to seek a federal disaster declaration for rain-battered Cumberland and Salem counties to open the doors for assistance and relief.
The weekend rain dumped as much as 11 inches of rain and flooded roads, washed out bridges, overflowed lakes and breeched several dams.
Bridgeton City issued a voluntary evacuation notice and instituted a reverse 911 message to residents located in flood prone areas. As a result of the Raceway Dam failure, some residents from a retirement village located adjacent to the Cohansey River had to seek shelter elsewhere.
“This past weekend’s weather wreaked havoc on Cumberland and Salem counties, areas already dealing with scores of economic related issues,” said Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland). “Folks there need help and they need it fast. I strongly urge Gov. Christie to declare a state of emergency and to apply for any federal funding we may be able to obtain to help the situation.”
“The county and local officials have done an outstanding job protecting public safety and property, and they should be repeatedly saluted, but longtime residents say they’ve never seen anything like this,” said Burzichelli (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland). “This is a real disaster that will surely cost taxpayers dearly to clean up. Basic infrastructure such as roads and dams that are vital to routine public safety are going to have to be repaired, and whatever assistance we can get from the federal government to buttress our fine county and local efforts will be more than welcome and should be sought.”
“This storm has a cost not only in dollars and cents, but in the mental anguish suffered by the residents directly impacted by its damage,” said Riley (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland). “Our county and local officials have done stellar work combating the elements and we commend their work, and now anything we can do to ease the burden of the cleanup is the right thing to do for taxpayers and residents. We all need to work together here to do what’s best for these residents and communities and get this cleanup and repairs under way with the most help possible.”
Under federal law, a governor may determine, after consulting with local government officials, that the recovery appears to be beyond the combined reDests of the state and local governments and that federal assistance may be needed.
In requesting federal assistance, the Governor must certify that the severity and magnitude of the disaster exceed state and local capabilities; that federal assistance is necessary, confirm the execution of the state’s emergency plan and certify adherence to cost sharing requirements.