Officials: Union, Essex counties left off disaster declaration despite devastation from Ida

Businesses all over the downtown area of Millburn in Essex County are still cleaning up following the flooding caused by Ida.

News 12 Staff

Sep 6, 2021, 9:48 PM

Updated 961 days ago


Officials in Union and Essex counties are not happy about the areas being left off the disaster declaration, after Ida tore through the region.
Businesses all over the downtown area of Millburn in Essex County are still cleaning up following the flooding caused by Ida.
Garden State Hemp is one of the many stores that will be shut down for weeks after water from the Rahway River infiltrated five feet downstairs, another three up above ground.
Carl Burwell says he watched the water rise in real time through security cameras installed at the business. "Inventory and furniture just floating around cash register and electronics floating around. Literally, our dreams just get flooded with five feet of water it was a heart-wrenching feeling," Burwell says.
He says he needs a new floor and walls, along with other damaged items that will need to be replaced.
He estimates the bill will be in the thousands.
Up Millburn Avenue, it's all devastation that can be seen from one store straight through another. It's why so many people say they were stunned to hear that Essex County did not receive that federal disaster declaration.
"We had businesses getting destroyed, residents, just not one area of the county. We had it from Newark to Millburn to Livingston," says Essex County Executive Joe Divincenzo.
For those now forced to rebuild, Divincenzo says FEMA help makes the difference.
"This is the key thing and to go on the computer and not see Essex county, you know. People were shocked and I start getting calls all day long from businesses and from residents and I'm as very upset and they're upset," says Essex County Executive Joe Divincenzo.
The reaction was similar in Union County. There are nine deaths between both right now.
Union officials called the devastation in some ways worse than Sandy. In a statement, Alexander Mirabella, Chairman of Union County Board of County Communications says, "Our residents need this federal assistance to cover uninsured property losses, repairs, temporary housing for those displaced… and recovery of what, in many cases, are entire livelihoods."
"I smile to keep from crying," Burwell says, with hopes that the financial boost from the state and the White House will help keep those tears under control.
Meantime, Divincenzo says he has a meeting Tuesday morning with FEMA, the state's Office of Emergency Management and the County Office of Emergency Management.
He says New Jersey's government is united in getting more federal aid to impacted residents.

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