E-News 9/2/11

The WeekJust Past: The Recovery Begins

Federal Assistance After Irene

How You Can Help Our Neighbors

FEMA: How to Spot, Avoid and Report Disaster Scam Artists

Price Gouging – Gasoline, Water, Other ‘Basics’

Traffic Gridlock

The Week Ahead: Increasing the Focus on Jobs

The Week Just Past: The Recovery Begins

“The devastation caused by Hurricane Irene is extremely serious, if not historic.  Many residents have told me that they have never witnessed such dramatic flooding in their lifetimes. On my visits to several towns, in some cases traveling with Governor Christie, I saw incredible destruction and terrible heartache for families and small businessmen and women.  It is clear that widespread damage to personal property, businesses, and infrastructure will challenge our communities for many months to come. 

“We all offer our thanks to our first responders, public works departments and all county and municipal emergency personnel and other volunteers for their efforts to assist residents.  We are grateful for the tireless service of members of the New Jersey National Guard and we commend the Governor for his strong leadership and clear communication which saved many lives and will now speed recovery. 

“Of course, in the days and weeks to come, I will continue doing everything I can to secure all available federal help to assist residents with resources, information and support.   We, literally and figuratively, have a long road ahead of us. 

“Please do not hesitate to call my Morristown office (973-984-0711) or my Washington office (202-225-5034) for assistance.  And please visit my website for a library of links that you may find useful in the days and weeks ahead.”

                                                          Rodney Frelinghuysen

Federal Assistance After Irene

Since Irene first threatened the U.S. it was well known that meeting the needs of disaster survivors and our communities would require close coordination among federal, state, county and local government officials.

The various emergency management teams have begun to assess the damages caused by the storm. These assessments are designed to give Governor Christie a better total picture of damages and to determine what level of additional federal support is needed.

As our emergency management teams continue its damage measurements, here is a look at the process that New Jersey is following, in order to request federal assistance for our state and local governments:

  • Emergency Declaration– Prior to formal damage assessments being completed, the President signed an emergency declaration for  New Jersey. This made additional federal assistance available to our state and local communities to support life saving efforts, such as providing shelter to those who had to evacuate their homes. An emergency declaration does not provide federal funding directly to individuals.
  • Damage Assessments– When the resources from affected states, or local governments cannot meet the needs of disaster survivors or the affected communities, federal resources are brought in to assist. To determine the level of support needed, FEMA works closely with every level of government to complete joint damage assessments after a disaster. These damage assessments are done by combining many sources of information, such as aerial surveys, door-to-door evaluations in the affected areas and initial damage reports from state or local governments.
  • Major Disaster Declaration– If it is determined that the affected state’s resources are overwhelmed by the disaster (based off the information from joint damage assessments), a major disaster declaration opens the door for additional federal assistance. The major disaster declaration will designate the programs that are authorized by the President. A major disaster declaration could involve the following assistance programs:
  • Public Assistance- provides assistance to state and local governments, and certain types of private nonprofit organizations for debris removal, emergency protective measures, and the repair, replacement, or restoration of disaster-damaged, publicly owned facilities. It also encourages protection of damaged public facilities from future events by providing assistance for hazard mitigation measures during the recovery process. For more information, visit FEMA’s website  
  • Individual Assistance– provides assistance to individuals and business owners affected by the disaster. Individual assistance provides funds directly from FEMA, or through Small Business Administration low-interest loans, to fulfill unmet needs such as housing for disaster survivors, disaster unemployment assistance, legal services, and other disaster-related needs from survivors or small business owners. Often times, individual assistance covers a portion of the uninsured losses of homeowners and business owners. For more information on the Individual Assistance program, visit FEMA’s websiteor and the SBA's website.

After Governor Christie sent a formal disaster declaration request to the President, endorsed by Rodney and the other members of our Congressional delegation, President Obama signed the official disaster declaration on Wednesday.

How You Can Help Our Neighbors

I have seen countless acts of selfless service this week across our state and we owe a debt of gratitude to the volunteers who are helping our communities recover.  In the weeks to come, the needs of many in our community will deepen and many residents will want to help.

To best manage the generous outpouring of support for those individuals devastated by Irene, disaster recovery experts have established some simple ways to help, whether you’re looking to volunteer or send donations.

Along with FEMA’s partners at the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster , here are reminders when helping those impacted by Irene:

  • Donate through a trusted organization (a local church, temple or synagogue) – At the national level, many voluntary-, faith- and community-based organizations are active in disasters, and are trusted ways to donate to disaster survivors. In addition to the national members, each state has its own list of voluntary orginizations active in disasters. To view the list, visit this website.  If you’d like to donate or volunteer to assist those affected by Irene, these organizations are a good place to consider.
  • Monetary contributions are the most efficient method of donating - offering voluntary agencies the most flexibility in obtaining the most-needed resources while pumping money into the local economy to help businesses recover. It is important to note that unsolicited donated goods such as used clothing, miscellaneous household items, and mixed or perishable food require agencies to redirect valuable resources to sort, package, transport, warehouse, and distribute items that may not meet the needs of disaster survivors.
  • Be wary of scams and fraud - Unfortunately, disasters often bring out criminals who prey on the needs of disaster survivors, or the generosity of those looking to help, by offering fraudulent services. If you suspect anyone – an inspector, disaster survivor, or someone posing as one of these – of fraudulent activities, call FEMA’s toll-free Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721, or your local law enforcement officials. (Read on for tips on identifying disaster fraud.)                                                                                                      

FEMA: How to Spot, Avoid and Report Disaster Scam Artists

After disaster strikes, many businesses, voluntary, faith-based, and community-based organizations, government agencies and committed local citizens come together to try and meet the needs of the affected individuals and community.  However, disasters breed crime.

If you suspect anyone – an inspector, disaster survivor, or someone posing as one of these – of fraudulent activities, call FEMA’s toll-free Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721, or our local law enforcement officials.

To help you spot fraud, FEMA has collected a list of consumer safety tips from federal and state agencies:

  • There is never a fee to apply for FEMA disaster assistance or to receive it. 
  • There is no fee for FEMA or U.S. Small Business Administration property damage inspections. 
  • The only ways to register for FEMA help are to call 800-621-3362 (TTY: 800-462-7585) or visit Or visit from a smartphone or Web-enabled device.
  • Government workers will never ask for a fee or payment. They wear a photo ID. Watch out for middle men who promise you will receive money, especially if they ask for an up-front payment.
  • Get three written estimates for repair work. Then check credentials and contact your local Better Business Bureau or Chamber of Commerce to learn about any complaints against the contractor or business.
  • Before work begins, make sure you get a written contract detailing all the work to be performed, the costs, a projected completion date, and how to negotiate changes and settle disputes. 
  • Make sure the contract clearly states who will obtain the necessary permits. Consider having a lawyer review the contract if substantial costs are involved. Keep a copy of the signed contract. 
  • If the contractor provides any guarantees, they should be written into the contract clearly, stating what is guaranteed, who is responsible for the guarantee and how long the guarantee is valid. 
  • Pay only by check or a credit card. A reasonable down payment may be required to buy materials for some projects, but don't pay anything without a signed contract.

Price Gouging – Gasoline, Water, Other ‘Basics’

The Governor's declaration of a State of Emergency activated New Jersey's price gouging law.  While this law protects consumers who are preparing to evacuate or taking other action to protect themselves, it also assists residents working to recover after an emergency. 

The law prohibits the sale of merchandise, including fuel, at an "excessive price increase" during the State of Emergency or within 30 days of the termination of the State of Emergency. 

An excessive price increase is defined as an increase of 10 or more percent above the price at which the good or service was sold immediately prior to the State of Emergency; or, if there are costs imposed by the seller's supplier or additional costs of providing the goods, a price of 10 percent in the markup from cost, compared to the markup ordinarily applied by the seller.

New Jersey law also prohibits gas stations from changing the retail price of motor fuel more than once in a 24 hour period. 

To report violations or complaints, contact the Division of Consumer Affairs at 1-800-242-5846 or

Recommended Reading:Michael Cooper writes in the Wednesday New York Times that Hurricane Irene will most likely prove to be one of the 10 costliest catastrophies in the nation's history, and analysts said that much of the damage might not be covered by insurance because it was caused not by winds but by flooding, which is excluded from many standard policies. Read “Hurricane Cost Seen as Ranking Among Top Ten” here

Traffic Gridlock

Getting around northern New Jersey has been a major challenge this week.  Bridges have been damaged. Some streets remain flooded. Roadways have washed away. Major highways have been cut.  For example, the closure earlier this week of I-287 northbound above Exit 43 caused massive, nightmarish traffic jams in and around Morris County.

To learn more about local road conditions, visit  

The Week Ahead: Increasing the Focus on Jobs

President Obama will address a joint meeting of the Congress on Thursday to deliver his latest plan to spur job creation.  “Our nation’s economic growth is still too low and too slow to restore the millions of jobs that have been lost in recent years,” Rodney said. “This Administration must understand that in order to boost job creation and grow the economy, we need to stop spending money we don’t have and restore employers’ faith in the economy.”

Rodney has endorsed an economic action plan that spurs investment through lower tax rates on businesses and individuals, getting government off the backs of job creators by clearing away many of the 43,000 new redundant, onerous and costly major regulations issued by the federal government at a cost of $26.5 billion last year, and opening new markets to American goods by implementing new trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. 

“These pro-growth actions are what we need to boost our economy, restore consumer confidence and get people back to work,” he said. “The Majority in the House is ready to act.  But we need the White House and the Senate to act as well.”