FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Freeholder Director Christopher D. Rafano
Middlesex County Freeholder Director Says County Recovering from Hurricane;
Expects Federal Disaster Aid
SEPTEMBER 2, 2011 – Middlesex County Freeholder Director Christopher D. Rafano said Middlesex County government and the 25 municipalities have taken and will continue to take the necessary steps to ensure residents’ needs are met in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, which struck last weekend.
Rafano also said Middlesex County has sought and fully anticipates a federal disaster declaration in the coming days, which will ensure that Middlesex County will receive federal disaster aid.
Preliminary numbers indicate that the County has far exceeded its $2.7 million threshold for disaster aid, Rafano said. Currently, more than $45 million in damage has been tallied. “We anticipate damage totals will reach over $100 million once all damage is reported,” he said.
Federal and State teams are in Middlesex County today to assess damage.
Once a disaster declaration is made, the County, municipalities, and individuals and businesses who sustained losses can begin applying for assistance. More information will be forthcoming.
Hurricane Irene dumped 10 inches of rain over an 18-hour period in Middlesex County starting Saturday, Aug. 27.
Wind gusts of up to 60 miles an hour downed trees and power lines.
Almost half of the County population – nearly 400,000 residents -- were without power for some time during and after the storm. About 1,500 customers were still without power as of this morning.
“Recovery efforts are well underway, roads have been opened and clean up has begun, but Hurricane Irene’s impact will be felt in the coming days, weeks and possibly months as recovery continues,” Rafano said.
Rafano said the County and its 25 municipalities have taken and will continue to take the necessary steps to ensure that residents’ needs are met.
First, he said, the County declared a State of Emergency at 11 p.m. August 27 and immediately implemented its Continuity of Operations/Continuance of Government plan to operate continuously throughout the storm.
The County Office of Emergency Management became the command post that drove all response efforts throughout the County. This team addressed the County’s needs and coordinated all emergency response between the County, the municipalities, the State and Federal agencies.
The Office of Emergency Management continues its coordinator role as recovery efforts unfold and damage is assessed.
In addition, Rafano urged residents to remain diligent as the Atlantic Hurricane Season continues.
“Currently, Hurricane Katia, a category 1 storm, with a wind speed of 75 mph, is travelling over the Leeward Islands and is expected to become a major hurricane this weekend. It is not yet known which track Katia will follow, but I encourage everyone to be prepared,” he said.
Freeholder Director Rafano also recognized those who took part in the County’s response and recovery efforts: “First, I want to thank the entire Freeholder Board for their support and direction during and after the storm, especially Freeholder Deputy Director Ronald Rios, who was a critical component of our response as Chairman of the Law and Public Safety Committee. I wish to recognize John Ferguson and his team at the Middlesex County Office of Emergency Management for their immediate, effective response and continuing coordination. This team’s planning and preparedness helped ensure timely response and effective communication between all first responders. Their work truly helped save lives and property.
“I wish to thank and commend all the County offices, employees and volunteers who supported our response and recovery efforts on behalf of the people of Middlesex County,” he said. “And a special thanks goes to the local first responders who put themselves in harm’s way to help their neighbors and communities.”