Federal Aid Coming For Freak October Snowstorm
Counties were left off the presidential disaster declaration due to clerical error, according to Bergen officials
The federal government announced Monday it would be amending its presidential disaster declaration to enable Bergen and Passaic counties to qualify for relief money incurred by the October snowstorm.
The two counties, along with Middlesex County, were initially left off the list after President Barack Obama issued his presidential disaster declaration in late November.
"I am extremely pleased that FEMA responded favorably to our request to add Bergen and Passaic Counties to the emergency disaster declaration regarding the October 29, 2011 snow storm," said Rep. Steve Rothman (D-9), who sent a letter to FEMA administrator Craig Fugate asking for another look at the figures submitted.
Bergen County officials said the lack of inclusion was due to a "clerical" issue between the state and federal government, pointing the finger at the state Office of Emergency Management.
State officials have denied there was a clerical mistake on their part but re-toured the areas again last week and came up with new figures, a state official told Patch. The state then asked the federal government to consider adding the two counties to the FEMA list.
According to figures provided by FEMA to the state, Bergen County was hit with $5.6 million in damages, far above the qualifying threshold of $3 million. State officials, however, had only submitted $1.2 million to the federal government.
Passaic County submitted $1.5 million in damage claims and needed to hit a $1.7 million threshold, according to New Jersey Office of Emergency Management spokeswoman Mary Goepfert. Middlesex County is also now eligible for aid, according to the federal government.
The new figures were not available Monday night. FEMA officials could not immediately be reached, nor could the State OEM.
"There is a lot of work left to be done to repair the damage from the October 29, 2011 snow storm," Rothman said in a statement issued Monday. "The funding now made available by the federal government will help our local communities rebuild and recover."