- Disaster Recovery Centers are open across all 21 New Jersey counties to assist survivors with registration. All DRCs will be closed on Thanksgiving. They reopen Friday with new hours, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., except at Bay Head Fire Station #1, which continues to be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. To find a disaster recovery center location, residents can check out the disaster recovery center locator at http://www.FEMA.gov/disaster-recovery-centers or by mobile phone at m.fema.gov. Residents can also text DRC and a zip code to 43362 (4FEMA).
- Letter from FEMA is just the starting point. Applicants should read their initial determination letter carefully. Even if the letter says they are ineligible, the reason might simply be that they have not provided all the information or documentation required. It does not necessarily mean “case closed.” When applicable, the letter explains what additional information is needed or how to appeal a decision stating they do not qualify for assistance.
- The U.S. Small Business Administration provides low-interest disaster loans to renters, homeowners and businesses of all sizes. Some applicants may receive an SBA loan application after registering with FEMA. No one is obligated to take out a loan, but if they don’t complete the application they may not be considered for other federal grant programs.
- Disaster Unemployment Assistance benefits are available for those whose jobs were impacted by the hurricane. That includes people not normally eligible for unemployment benefits, such as self-employed persons and farm workers. Registration closes February 4, 2013; applicants should contact a New Jersey Reemployment Call Center. Locations include Union City (201-601-4100), Freehold (732-761-2020), and Cumberland (856-507-2340).
- Free Legal Aid now available to disaster survivors – FEMA is working with the New Jersey State Bar Association, and ABA Young Lawyers Division to provide free legal aid to storm survivors. Disaster survivors may call toll-free at 888-541-1900 Monday through Friday from 9-5. Callers may leave a message, which will be returned the next day. The hotline is open to residents who need legal help related to the disaster such as insurance-related claims, landlord-tenant matters, FEMA appeals and creditor-debtor matters.
- Crisis Counseling Assistance: FEMA is coordinating with the state of New Jersey to address the immediate counseling needs of disaster survivors. Individuals may call the New Jersey Disaster Distressed Line at 1-877-294-4357, or (TDY) 1-877-294-4356. Disaster survivors may also call the SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) Disaster Distressed Line at: 1-800-985-5990 or text ‘TalkWithUs’ to 66746, or (TTY) 1-800-846-8517.
Key Federal Agency Response and Recovery Efforts
- FEMA has disbursed $214.7 million in Housing Assistance and $17.8 million in Other Needs Assistance (ONA), such as personal property, medical and dental, for a total Individual Housing Program disbursement of $232.5 million dollars.
- FEMA inspectors have conducted 84,951 housing inspections. Turnaround time for inspections is currently 4.8 days; however this could change as the number of homes needing inspection begins to increase. Total housing inspections for those in the queue are now 90 percent complete.
- FEMA’s Voluntary Agency Liaison is working with Mennonite Disaster Services to assist in coordinating construction and muck-out teams in New Jersey as well as several other voluntary organizations.
- Disaster Housing Operations teams continue to visit local municipal and county officials verifying available rental availability.
- To support N.J.’s Hurricane Sandy Children’s Task Force, FEMA facilitated a connection between members of the Children’s Task Force and the American Academy of Pediatrics (national and local level) to support the creation of messaging focused on the well-being of children (post disaster), to be shared through public messaging and social media.
- Planning is under way to develop a multimedia campaign in coordination with Environmental and Historical Preservation to address the preservation of historical buildings and family heirlooms, which will include a press release, tri-fold flyer and video.
- FEMA’s Public Assistance Branch is forming a Port Authority Task Force to focus on damages and issues regarding the New York-New Jersey Port Authority in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
Department of Health and Human Services
- The Department of Health and Human Services has activated behavioral health professionals from the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps to provide mental health support in shelters and for first responders. Residents also can connect with local crisis counselors through the National Disaster Distress Helpline. This toll-free, multilingual, crisis support service is available 24/7 via telephone (1-800-985-5990) and SMS (text ‘TalkWithUs’ to 66746).
If you have any questions, please contact FEMA’s Intergovernmental Affairs Division at (202) 646-3444 or at FEMA-IGA@fema.dhs.gov.
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.