Disaster Relief Stepped Up For Victims of Hurricane Ida
By Anne Levin
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has opened a Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) at the Hollowbrook Community Center in Ewing Township. The center, which opened its doors on Tuesday, September 14, is to assist any Mercer County residents or businesses whose property was damaged in the remnants of Hurricane Ida.
In Lambertville, which is in Hunterdon County, the Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC) will offer assistance on Wednesday, September 15 from 2-7:30 p.m. to provide residents and business owners with one-stop access to a range of resources to help them recover from the damage, which was substantial. The MARC will be on the sledding hill at North Main Street and Phillips Barber Road.
The DRC in Ewing is staffed by FEMA representatives who can provide information and answer questions on FEMA disaster aid. It is open to residents and businesses from every municipality in Mercer County, and residents from any other county that received the FEMA “Disaster” declaration.
Residents who previously registered for assistance via the internet or by phone do not need to visit the DRC, but can ask questions or seek further information in person at the DRC. The eligibility for FEMA Individual Assistance means that residents or business owners whose properties were directly damaged by the flooding or storm events on September 1-3 can apply to recoup their losses.
Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes announced on September 10 that Mercer County had been added to FEMA’s list of locations to get major disaster declarations. Originally, Mercer County was not on the list, though several towns including Princeton suffered major flood damage during the storm.
“I greatly appreciate FEMA’s response to the situation here in Mercer County, where residents in some of our communities are in dire need of assistance,” Hughes said in a prepared statement last week. “And I thank the Biden administration, Senators Booker and Menendez, Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, and Governor Phil Murphy, as well as our county Office of Emergency Management, for their help in getting Mercer much-needed federal aid and accelerating our recovery process. I also thank our residents for their patience and perseverance during this difficult time.”
The DRC is open weekdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. No appointment is necessary. Among the services provided are guidance regarding disaster recovery, clarification of any written correspondence received, housing assistance and rental resource information, answers to questions and referrals to agencies that may provide further assistance, the status of applications being processed by FEMA, and Small Business Association (SBA) program information if there is a SBA representative at the DRC.
If awarded, individual assistance can cover reimbursement for a variety of storm-related expenses including rental payments for temporary housing if homes are uninhabitable, grants for home repairs and replacement of essential household items not covered by insurance, low-interest loans to cover residential losses not covered by insurance, loans for small businesses that suffered disaster-related cash flow problems, and loans for farmers to cover property loss.
The city of Lambertville is operating the MARC in collaboration with the American Red Cross New Jersey Region, United Way of Hunterdon County, and several governmental and nonprofit partners. FEMA is also offering assistance at the Union Fire House, 230 North Main Street.
“We are doing everything we can to advocate for the people of Lambertville who were impacted by Ida,” said Mayor Julia Fahl. “More than 20 government and nonprofit entities are coming into our community to ensure that any questions residents have are answered and that resources are available to address all resident needs, from housing to insurance to FEMA to mental health and trauma recovery.”
Mercer County residents seeking to begin the disaster application process can register online at DisasterAssistance.gov or call (800) 621-3362 (800) 462-7585 for the hearing and speech impaired). The Hollowbrook Community Center is at 320 Hollowbrook Drive, Ewing Township.