Five New Jersey counties slammed by Tropical Storm Ida nearly two weeks ago have now gotten an emergency declaration from the Biden team, making them eligible for a slew of federal aid.
The disaster declaration by the Federal Emergency Management Agency just before the start of the weekend applies to Essex, Hudson, Morris, Mercer and Union counties, and allows for financial relief to residents, homeowners and businesses that were struck by Ida.
“This is really good news,” Gov. Phil Murphy said during a campaign event Sept. 10 in Bloomfield.
State and local officials, and several of New Jersey’s congressional Democrats, condemned the decision to only extend the FEMA decision to six counties – Bergen, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Passaic and Somerset – arguing that they were not the only ones devastated by the storm.
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, for example, estimated $35 million in infrastructure damage alone from Ida in the Hudson County city. “This is just the estimate for damage to city infrastructure [and] not including millions in personal damage to homes/businesses,” he tweeted on Sept. 6.
Our preliminary estimate for damage to #JerseyCity infrastructure from Ida is $35M. This is just the estimate for damage to city infrastructure + not including millions in personal damage to homes/businesses. We’ll continue to push for the federal help JC should be included on
— Steven Fulop (@StevenFulop) September 6, 2021
One pool of money available is $2 million in low-interest loans for businesses and nonprofits being offered by the federal Small Business Administration, which owners can use to pay for storm-damaged property and machinery, equipment, inventory, business disruption and any other physical damage suffered from the storm.
Under the Ida-relief loans, businesses can get a 20% increase on their loan to cover expenses for mitigating future floods and hazardous weather, such as retaining walls, sump pumps and elevation. Loans last up to 30 years, with interest rates starting at 2.855% for businesses and 2% for nonprofits.
Homeowners could borrow up to $200,000 for repairs, while renters could borrow up to $40,000 for other personal property damaged by the storm. For both of them, interest rates start at 1.563%.
For businesses in counties adjacent to those with an emergency declaration, they can apply for $2 million loans under the Economic Injury Disaster Loans, which offer loans of up to $2 million to handle financial obligations and other operating expenses at a time when business was disrupted due to a natural disaster. Loans last up to 30 years, and the interest rates are capped at 4%.
“The SBA is strongly committed to providing New Jersey residents with the most effective response possible to assist businesses, homeowners and renters with federal disaster loans,” SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman said in a Sept. 7 statement. “Getting businesses and communities up and running after a disaster is our highest priority.”
At the state level, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority is rolling out $10 million of grants for businesses affected by Ida, and another half a million for those impacted by Hurricane Henri in August.
Applications open this Friday, and a webinar on the grants is being held Sept. 14 at 9 a.m.