South Jersey Storm Assessments Underway, FEMA Arrives [AUDIO]
Thousands were without electricity, downed trees were blocking roadways, utility poles were destroyed and debris was scattered all over sections of South Jersey, the result of a severe thunderstorm.
Six days later, officials in Atlantic, Cumberland and Salem counties are continuing clean up efforts. The New Jersey Office of Emergency Management is working with FEMA and county emergency officials to assess the damages, which could take weeks.
"This was an unusual storm," said Atlantic County Public Information Officer Linda Gilmore. "All 23 municipalities were hit. There was not one municipality that was not affected by this storm. We are trying to come up with a plan where we'll identify specific locations where municipalities and residents can begin to take the debris so it can be eliminated."
"Based on what we've seen so far, we estimate the damages are in the millions of dollars. We're taking it as a good sign that FEMA had such a rapid response and arrived so quickly after the storm event," said Gilmore. "Now, it's just a matter of them taking a look at the damages, confirming and verifying them and seeing if we meet those thresholds to qualify for federal assistance."
As of 4:30AM on Friday morning there are 7618 customers without power according to the Atlantic City Electric outage map. While the utility expects to have most customers restored by midinight, those who will remain without power will be notified by 9PM Friday night.
The damage assessments will be conducted in Atlantic and Cumberland Counties for individual assistance and public assistance and in Salem County for public assistance only. There is a possibility that additional counties will be added as assessments are being conducted. The team will be looking into the extent of damage, the number of people displaced and the threat to health and safety caused by the incident.
People with unmet needs should contact 2-1-1, New Jersey's Helpline or go to www.nj211.org. Emotional support is also available by calling the New Jersey Mental Health Cares' Disaster Mental Health Helpline toll free at 877-294-HELP (4357).