President Obama OKs Flood Aid for New Jersey

Storm-weary Garden State residents still struggling to clean up after massive storm

Saturday, Apr 3, 2010  |  Updated 3:50 PM EDT
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NJ Reporter <a title=Brian Thompson surveys more flood damage" />

NJ Reporter Brian Thompson surveys more flood damage

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Help is on the way.

President Barack Obama has approved federal aid for 12 New Jersey counties hardest hit by last month's flooding.
       
The disaster declaration issued Friday makes funding available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency for people and business owners in Atlantic, Bergen, Cape May, Essex, Gloucester, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Passaic, Somerset and Union counties.
       
That aid can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the March 12 nor'easter.
       
Federal funding also will be available to state and eligible local governments and also some private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the severe storm and flooding.

Meanwhile, storm-weary Garden State residents continue to monitor rivers that flooded last month and have been running high amid recent rains.

Some families lost everything in the floods that followed the record-setting rainstorm that walloped the region in late March.

In Lincoln Park, N.J., Jurgen Baci, 9, played in the waters of the Pompton River that were overflowing his yard while his sister, Fiona, 5 watched from a few feet away.

"We moved here (2 years ago), we didn't know there was flooding," Jurgen told NBCNewYork, translating for his Father Neritan, who brought his family here from Albania.

There is no carpeting or furniture left in their home thanks to the floods stemming from the first big storm. But the Baci's had nowhere else to go, so they tried to ride out the next round of flooding, which ended up occurring less than a week ago.

Upstream in Wayne, Rasul Bizati also suffered through the flooding in the last weeks of March. For the most recent storm, he enlisted a neighbor to help his brand new replacement washer and dryer to higher ground with a hand truck.

"Just neighbors, we all stick together," said Tom Steuer, who lives just down the block.

In his garage, Bizati talked about the last flood, "We actually found a fish lying down here and it was still alive."

Asked if he's ready to sell and move after five floods in six years, Bizati responded, "I'd love to but who's going to buy it now?"

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