The White House announced Saturday that President Joe Biden will visit Manville, New Jersey, and the New York City borough of Queens on Tuesday, to view the damage caused by Tropical Storm Ida.
The storm has killed at least 25 people died in New Jersey alone plus 14 more in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, and at least 24 in other Northeastern U.S. states.
Biden plans to tour parts of the Northeast that also were clobbered by flash flooding caused by Ida’s remnants.
Biden approved a New Jersey disaster declaration, an action that will make federal funding available to state residents and permit grants for temporary housing, home repairs and low-cost loans.
The declaration will make federal funding available to state residents in six counties – Bergen, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Passaic, and Somerset – allowing for 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 effects of the disaster.
To apply for help, residents or business owners who suffered losses in Bergen, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Passaic and Somerset counties will be able to request assistance beginning Monday online at http://www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA(3362). The TTY number for the hearing or speech impaired is 1-800-462-7585 (TTY). Calls will be accepted seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Biden walked the streets of a hard-hit Louisiana neighborhood after Hurricane Ida battered the Gulf Coast, and told residents there, “I know you’re hurting, I know you’re hurting.”
Trips to natural disaster scenes have long been a feature of U.S. presidencies, moments to demonstrate compassion and show the public leadership during a crisis.
They are also opportunities to hit pause, however temporarily, from the political sniping that often dominates Washington, as the leader of the free world fulfills a role as ‘consoler in chief’ for citizens who are in the early stages of recovering from the disaster.
In Louisiana, Biden pledged robust federal assistance to get people back on their feet and said the government already had distributed $100 million directly to individuals in the state in $500 checks to give them a first slice of critical help. Many people, he said, don’t know what help is available because they can’t get cellphone service.
Biden previously toured New Jersey as Vice President, and spoke alongside Democratic Senator Bob Menendez and Republican Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, who has since left that office, at an event in Seaside, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
Biden was led on a tour by Seaside Park Mayor Robert Matthies on Nov. 18. 2012. Other participants included Congressman Jon Runyan, New Jersey, Bob Martin, Commissioner, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Richard Serino, Deputy Administrator, FEMA, Bob Fenton, Assistant Administrator for Disaster Response, FEMA, Mike Hall, Federal Coordinating Officer – New Jersey, FEMA, Tom Davies, FEMA, Harry Friebel, Army Corps of Engineers and John Bartlett, Ocean County Freeholder.
The White House announced that residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties may apply for assistance tomorrow by registering online at http://www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA(3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired.
The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice.
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