FEMA Denies NJ Emergency Flood Request

Washington has turned down the latest request from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for a "major disaster declaration," which would green-light federal funds to help North Jersey residents and businesses cover out-of-pocket expenses associated with the March floods, which are in the millions.

Christie has 30 days to appeal the decision by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which denied his request via a letter April 19, saying "the damage from the event was not of such severity and magnitude as to be beyond the capabilities of the response," according to a Christie spokesperson.

According to the website, North Jersey.com, the governor requested government help for Passaic County, that would be reimbursed 75 percent of municipal costs. He also asked for help for Bergen, Essex and Morris counties to help homeowners without flood insurance, to cover costs not taken care off for those with insurance, and to make other programs available to assist people with rebuilding -- including low-interest loans.

Passaic County municipalities have already shelled out $4.5 million in the wake of the floods.

In its assessment, FEMA found 80 percent of homeowners affected had flood insurance, one of the factors considered, according to FEMA spokesman Don Caetano. He said people without insurance can work with local and state governments to get help.

Several officials like the mayors of Wayne and Little Falls have described the decision as "a slap in the face," and "unconscionable."

Cash-strapped towns and cities will be burdened even more, if the FEMA decision stands. Democrats U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg and Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. say Christie should appeal the decision.

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