JERSEY CITY -- Senior officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) took a tour of several Jersey City neighborhoods hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy and released information regarding how residents can begin to apply for relief funds from the federal government.
John O. Brennan, deputy national security advisor and special aide to President Obama, today toured Country Village and areas of downtown Jersey City, two communities in which many residents experienced devastating flood damage to their homes and lost furniture, appliances, electronics, and other valuables. Brennan was accompanied by Robert Fenton, FEMA's assistant administrator for response.
"Just days ago in a phone conversation I had with President Barack Obama, he guaranteed me that he would be responsive, not just to our needs but to the needs of all the communities that have been devastated during the unprecedented storm. By sending the officials who can help us get back on our feet, and in short order, he’s kept his word,” said Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy.
Hundreds of Country Village residents attended a community briefing in Country Village Park this afternoon. The American Red Cross was also on hand to give out free pizzas and box lunches to Country Village residents, who are still without power in their homes.
"FEMA checks are already being sent out. We're doing inspections right now of individual's homes. The process is, someone has to phone in and register. Once they register it usually takes a couple days to get an inspector out to look at the residence. And then maybe four or five days to process [the claim] if all the information is together," Fenton explained to the Reporter. "It's a lot quicker to apply online" than calling, he added.
To apply for FEMA releif, residents can visit http://www.disasterassistance.gov or call 1-800-621-FEMA (1-800-621-3362).
Lights coming back on, but many still without power
PSE&G said it hopes to have 85 percent of Jersey City back online by the end of Saturday night. Many streets and residential blocks now have power, but large swaths of the city are still without electricity.
"Right now, I'm most worried about Boyd-McGuiness and the Fairmount Hotel," said Ward B City Councilman David Donnelly, whose area still has many power outages. Boyd-McGuiness and the Fairmount Hotel house many elderly and disabled residents.
Donnelly, a United way of Hudson County staffer who helped organize a distribution of Goya Food throughout Jersey City, was spotted checking in with PSE&G at Jersey City's Office of Emergency Management on Saturday.
Some frustrated residents have wondered why they are still in the dark when neighbors just one or two blocks away had their power restored 24 or 48 hours ago.
PSE&G spokesperson Richard Dwyer explained that in some cases downed wires may need to be reconnected in areas where power has been restored. Disconnected wires may be preventing power from reaching pockets of the city that are still in the dark, he said.
"We continue to make steady progress," Dwyer added. "We've restored power to the Hub, the Hilltop area, College Towers, and the Junction. The city's three main switching stations have been significantly repaired and maintenance continues on our substations. We have line and tree crews assigned in Jersey City today to create additional pathways to electricity."
For an estimate regarding when your neighborhood might have power restored, visit www.nj.gov. -- E. Assata Wright