In a conference call with members of the media this afternoon FEMA Coordinating Officer Bill Vogel said that New Jersey and federal employees will be aggressively canvassing the state this weekend to assess the damage caused by Hurricane Irene.
Depending on the results of the assessments, additional counties can be added to the Presidential declaration of major disaster which would free up federal money for disaster relief.
Vogel emphasised that there is no penalty to counties not included in initial declarations of disaster and that assessments typically result in additions to initial declarations.
There are two kinds of disaster relief.
Public Assistance is granted to government entities and non- profits for infrastructure repair, including roads, parks and government buildings. The threshold for Public Assistance is $3.27 per capita per county. Vogel said that currently there is only money available in this fund for debris removal and emergency repairs until Congress authorizes addition funds.
This is the fund that House Minority Leader Eric Cantor wants replenished by spending cuts elsewhere in the federal budget. The Neptune Nudniks, the rest of the liberal media, and Rick Ambrosia can stop their uninformed demagoguery now.
Here’s an idea to save money on the disaster relief without cutting spending elsewhere: repeal “prevailing wage” laws for FEMA funded repairs and let the market determine wages to be paid to workers on the projects. That would allow more people to be employed and allow more work to be done under the $3.27 per capita per county threshold.
Individual Assistance, as the name implies, is funding for citizens and businesses that have suffered disastrous damage. This fund is fully funded and needs no additional Congressional authorization. The Neptune Nudniks can retract their editorial and apologize to Cantor now.
Vogel said that all survivors who have suffered damages should register with FEMA by calling 800-621-3361 or on the web at fema.gov. FEMA and NJ OEM employees that are canvassing the state this weekend will make their cells phones available to survivors to immediately register.
Residents should contact their own insurance companies immediately. FEMA assistance will only pay for damages that are not covered by insurance.
Major Dennis McNulty of NJ OEM said that Disaster Recovery facilities will be established throughout the state and open for business by Tuesday September 6. The locations of the Disaster Recovery offices will be posted on fema.gov and ready.nj.gov.