Four more counties given disaster declaration by FEMA for Ida damages

Elected officials have sharply criticized FEMA over the delay

By: - September 10, 2021 12:55 pm

Flooding in Lincoln Park in Morris County on Sept. 2, 2021, the day after the remnants of Hurricane Ida led to widespread flooding in the region. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Residents in four more New Jersey counties will be able to apply directly for federal aid after the counties received a major disaster declaration from the Federal Emergency Management Agency Friday.

Hudson, Essex, Mercer, and Union counties were added to the major disaster list, joining six other counties that on Monday received the declaration for aid related to damage caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ida.

“I’m happier now than I was yesterday and the day before,” Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes said.

Hopewell Borough, Hopewell Township, Hamilton, Ewing, and Lawrence each sustained damage from the storm that Hughes said impacted more than 100 residences and several businesses that “were either destroyed or had a lot of difficulty to them.”

The delay in authorizing direct aid to the counties was a source of consternation for federal lawmakers and elected leaders who have spent much of the last week petitioning FEMA and President Joe Biden for additional aid in the aftermath of Ida’s historic flooding.

For homeowners, renters, and business owners affected by Ida, you can apply for direct assistance by visiting or calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).

The push for additional federal aid is unlikely to end with Friday’s announcement. Elected officials in Morris, Monmouth, and Burlington Counties have pressed the federal government for assistance but have not yet received a disaster declaration. Morris’ Lincoln Park sustained widespread flooding last week.

In some cases, counties lack a declaration extended to most of their neighbors.

“We’re a doughnut. We’re a giant void in the middle of everything,” said state Sen. Joe Pennacchio (R-Morris). “How’d that happen?”

FEMA evaluators toured those three counties and others that have not received an emergency declaration earlier this week. It’s unclear whether additional disaster declarations are in the works.

President Joe Biden on Tuesday toured parts of the state impacted by the storm with Gov. Phil Murphy and congressional lawmakers, saying he would work with New Jersey to get “what you need to help the people of New Jersey to recover.”

Ida was the latest in a series of damaging storms to ravage New Jersey and other states in the country’s northeast.

It may be the costliest disaster yet. AccuWeather last week estimated the storm caused up to $95 billion in damage, including in areas that don’t typically see flooding. At least 27 New Jersey residents died, including some sheltering in basement apartments or in cars caught in the tropical storm’s path.

For contrast, Hurricane Sandy caused more than $60 billion in damage and killed at least more than 150 people, not all of whom lived in New Jersey.

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Nikita Biryukov
Nikita Biryukov

Nikita Biryukov most recently covered state government and politics for the New Jersey Globe. His tenure there included revelatory stories on marijuana legalization, voting reform and Rep. Jeff Van Drew's decamp to the Republican Party. Earlier, he worked as a freelancer for The Home News Tribune and The Press of Atlantic City.