Showing posts with label weather. Show all posts
Showing posts with label weather. Show all posts

Friday, August 29, 2014

Is Summer 'Over' On Monday? HELL NO!

Plenty of bright beautiful summer days (24 to be exact) await us.

Repeat after me:
SUMMER DOES NOT END UNTIL SEPTEMBER 23.
The whole notion that summer begins on Memorial Day and ends on Labor Day is something that was dreamed up by the media and/or the travel industry. And it's a lie.
Because the calendar (and the seasons themselves) tell a whole different story.
May is often cool and transitional. And so is much of June.
Summer begins at the summer solstice on June 21.
And autumn begins at the autumnal equinox on September 22 at 10:29 PM.
June 21 is the longest day of daylight.
September 22 is a day when the hours of daylight and darkness are about equal. Thus, the equinox.
After September, darkness begins to take over and it remains that way until December 21 which is the shortest day of the year in terms of sunlight. Each day after that, we get more sunlight until the vernal equinox in March -- the first day of spring.
That's the cycle of the seasons.
We have many warm, wonderful days ahead of us.
So, go out and enjoy summer until at least September 22.
And don't let anyone tell you it's over!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Post-Sandy Woodbridge Buyouts Begin

The first closing on the buyouts of flood-threatened homes in Woodbridge, where the Superstorm Sandy Blue Acres Program has approved nearly 200 homes for purchase, was announced yesterday by New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bob Martin.

In total, 306 families in six towns now have accepted DEP Blue Acres’ buyout offers, and there have been 154 closings in three Middlesex County municipalities, Woodbridge, Sayreville and South River, as part of the Christie Administration’s goal of buying 1,300 homes statewide to move residents out of harm’s way and create natural buffer areas to handle future storm waters.

“The Blue Acres buyout program is Governor Christie’s pledge to help residents in storm-damaged communities relocate and start their lives again outside of flood-prone areas,” said Commissioner Martin. “We also are creating new, permanent open space that can serve as flood plains to buffer communities from future storms.”

The first closing in Woodbridge was for a Crampton Avenue home that was purchased for $228,000. Like other homes acquired as part of the Blue Acres program, it was purchased at pre-Sandy market value based on an independent appraisal.

“We’re pleased that the closings are starting to happen, and we’re very satisfied with the state’s handling of Woodbridge’s cases,” said Woodbridge Mayor John McCormac. “The state has done a tremendous job.”

Blue Acres’ has targeted homes of willing sellers in the Sewaren, Port Reading, and Avenel sections of the municipality.

DEP also has made offers to homeowners in East Brunswick and Newark, and will begin making offers in Lawrence Township in the fall. The department is currently pursuing buyouts in Linden, Old Bridge, Manville, and several other municipalities.

The DEP has identified 946 properties for buyouts in 10 municipalities that sustained major flooding from Sandy’s storm surge or previous storms. So far, 151 homes have been purchased, and 48 homes have been demolished.

Launched by the Christie Administration in May, 2013, the state’s $300 million buyout program will purchase some 1,300 damaged homes at pre-Sandy market values to provide residents with financial resources needed to relocate to residences in less flood-prone areas.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Hazard Mitigation Grant Program has approved nearly $160 million, which is administered by the state Office of Emergency Management, toward the purchase of homes in Sayreville, Woodbridge, and South River. State Blue Acres dollars and federal U.S. Department of Agriculture-Natural Resource Conservation Service funding also will be used to buy homes in Newark, East Brunswick and Lawrence Township.

Additional federal funding to acquire other properties impacted by Superstorm Sandy will be provided through the $1.46 billion second round of federal Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds allocated to New Jersey by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The DEP has created a special post-Sandy Blue Acres team to work closely with willing sellers and process their buyout applications as quickly as possible. Case managers are working with individual homeowners personally to help guide them through the process.

The initial Blue Acres Program began in 1995, and the DEP purchased lands in floodways in the Delaware, Passaic and Raritan river basins. The program was later expanded to include all state waters. Eligible properties must be storm damaged, prone to incurring storm damage or situated on land that could provide a buffer to protect other areas from such damage.

Homeowners interested in selling their homes through this process may contact the DEP’s Blue Acres Program at 609-984-0500.

For more information on the Blue Acres Program, visit:http://www.state.nj.us/dep/greenacres/blue_flood_ac.html

For information on Sandy Recovery, visit: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/special/hurricane-sandy/

Friday, August 22, 2014

Farmers Almanac Issues Winter 2014-15 Warnings!

The original Old Farmers Almanac has issued its weather forecast for winter 2014-15 and summer 2015.
And The Almanac sees extremes of cold and heat -- a colder than normal winter and a hotter than normal summer.
Yes, or large portions of the country, the Almanac is predicting an exceptionally cold winter. That includes New England, the Ohio Valley and the Pittsburgh region.
The prediction for the Atlantic Corridor, which includes Philadelphia is as follows:
Winter will be colder and slightly wetter than normal, with above-normal snowfall. The coldest periods will be in late December and early and mid-January. The snowiest periods will be in mid- and late December, mid-January, and early to mid-February.
Enjoy what's left of summer -- and the fall. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Guadagno Urges Businesses To Prepare For Hurricaines

As the 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season takes form, State officials are urging business owners to prepare themselves and take steps to mitigate losses if another strong storm affects the region.

“During Superstorm Sandy, there was unprecedented and widespread damage impacting more than 30,000 businesses and countless homeowners who experienced incredible destruction and structural damage,” said Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno. “This experience has taught us that, although we cannot prevent natural disasters such as storms and hurricanes, we can be prepared and proactive in taking the necessary measures that will minimize damage and loss. This Administration is committed to providing our businesses with the tools they need to prepare for emergencies so that they can return quickly to normal operations.”

New Jersey has updated its Guide to Emergency Preparedness to help businesses prepare for natural disasters and emergencies. The online resource provides a checklist that contains key information and reminders regarding emergency and business continuity planning.

In addition to a list of government agencies, the guide provides information about how to proceed following an emergency, such as notifying an insurance agent, having your building inspected, restoring utilities and reestablishing communications with employees.

“Having a game plan in place is essential for businesses of all sizes,” added Lt. Governor Guadagno. “Taking the necessary steps and being prepared enhances the resilience of a business and helps ensure that it will remain a vital part of our state’s economy.”

The Guide to Emergency Preparedness can be found online at http://www.nj.gov/njbusiness/pdfs/emergency_prep.pdf

Businesses considering a move or in need of assistance are encouraged to call New Jersey's Business Action Center at (866) 534-7789 or visit the State's Business Portal at www.newjerseybusiness.gov.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Christie Announces New Sandy Elevation Grants

Governor Chris Christie today announced the distribution of 132 more federal Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) awards to assist homeowners with costs incurred in elevating their homes to protect against future flooding and storms. In the latest round of grant awards, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved applications from the Department of Environmental Protection for properties in 29 municipalities, bringing the total of approved post-Superstorm Sandy elevation grant awards to 460, totaling approximately $12 million.

“These grants are helping families in communities that were battered by Sandy to elevate their homes and make them more resilient to future storms,’’ said Governor Christie. “We intend to continue pressing hard to get more grants out as quickly as possible to allow those still recovering to put their lives back together.’’

The DEP has submitted more than 1,200 post-Sandy elevation applications to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and expects more approvals in the near future.

The latest round of elevation awards will be made to property owners in Atlantic, Monmouth and Ocean counties, which bore the brunt of the battering from Superstorm Sandy. A first round of awards was approved in April for 26 homeowners in Brigantine in Atlantic County, and subsequent grants have been awarded to property owners in seven counties, bringing the total to 460 property owners.

A series of community meetings with the latest grant recipients will be held in the near future to help guide them through the final steps of the grant award process.

New Jersey has committed $100 million in HMGP funds provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to elevate approximately 2,700 primary residential structures in the nine counties deemed by HUD as most impacted by Superstorm Sandy – Atlantic, Bergen, Cape May, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean and Union.

Under the HMGP Elevation Program, eligible recipients receive up to $30,000 for a broad range of work associated with home elevations, including engineering, construction, permits and utility work. The money is reimbursed after the work is completed. Homes must be deemed structurally sound to be eligible.

“These grants provide vital financial assistance to New Jersey residents who are elevating their homes to provide protection against future storms and floods,” said DEP Commissioner Bob Martin. “In addition to moving people and property out of harm’s way, elevating homes will likely lower flood insurance premiums for homeowners by helping them comply with FEMA flood maps.”

The 132 awards announced today will be made to homeowners in Absecon, Atlantic City, Brigantine, Egg Harbor Township, Longport and Ventnor City in Atlantic County; Belmar, Brielle, Keansburg, Manasquan, Monmouth Beach, Oceanport, Port Monmouth, Rumson, Spring Lake and Sea Bright in Monmouth County; and Berkeley Township, Brick, Eagleswood Township, Lacey Township, Lavallette, Little Egg Harbor, Long Beach Township, Ocean Township, Point Pleasant Beach, Seaside Heights, Ship Bottom, Stafford, Surf City and Toms River. More than half of the homeowners who have applied for elevation grants are in Ocean and Monmouth counties.

“It has been a rough road since Superstorm Sandy but we are thankful for the grant money that will help us elevate our home,’’ said Keansburg resident Linda Patterson, who resides on Beaconlight Avenue with her husband Rob. “We are transplants from New York and have come to love our neighborhood and our neighbors in Keansburg, so that made it an easy choice for us to decide to remain in our home of 5 years and to elevate it to protect us better from future storms.’’



Homeowners Brian and Gina Katz had just purchased their Beaconlight Avenue house six months prior to Sandy and spent most of that summer gutting their kitchen. “The grant program has been a blessing in that it is allowing us to protect our home in the future,” said Gina Katz. “We love the neighborhood we chose, we love the house and we hope to never have to go through something like this again”



Other key Sandy recovery programs at the DEP include the Blue Acres Acquisition Program, which is acquiring 1,300 properties in Sandy-impacted areas and other areas that have sustained repetitive flood losses. The DEP also is partnering with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to advance beach and dune construction projects along the state’s entire coastline that will reduce risk to life, property and infrastructure.



For more on Sandy recovery efforts in New Jersey, visit http://www.state.nj.us/gorr/ and http://www.state.nj.us/dep/special/hurricane-sandy/

Friday, May 2, 2014

Gripping Video: Landslide Swallows 10 Cars



A landslide sent at least 10 parked cars tumbling over a 30-foot drop in Baltimore on Wednesday. Residents of the neighborhood say they saw it coming.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

98% Of Sandy Resettlement Checks Delivered

The Christie Administration today announced that more than 18,200 eligible families have received assistance through the $215 million Homeowner Resettlement Program. The program provides every eligible Sandy-impacted homeowner who applied to the program a $10,000 grant to incentivize them to stay in their home community rather than relocating. 

Families receiving the Resettlement grant can use the money for non-construction storm-related expenses, such as increases in flood insurance premiums, utility bills, replacement furniture, mortgage payments and rent for temporary housing. Resettlement checks to 18,200 of the more than 18,500 eligible applicants have been processed and mailed out, bringing the program nearly to completion.

“As we have said since the start of our Sandy recovery process, our goal has always been to help New Jersey residents impacted by Superstorm Sandy rebuild their lives in the communities that they know as home,” said Governor Chris Christie. “By supporting more than 18,200 families in exactly that way, Homeowner Resettlement Program has been a critical program in helping families stay in their communities, preserving the character of our neighborhoods, and helping bring a return to normalcy after Sandy.”

The Christie Administration originally allocated $180 million in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Disaster Recovery funding to the Resettlement Program. Because of the unmet demand, the Administration sought and received approval from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) this past January to transfer an additional $35 million in CDBG Disaster Recovery monies into the Resettlement Program to fully fund the more than 18,500 eligible Sandy-impacted homeowners who applied to the program. Recipients must agree to remain in their home county for at least three years.

“What we’ve been able to accomplish with the Resettlement Program in less than a year, demonstrates our commitment to process, review and approve thousands of applications as efficiently and as effectively as possible,” said DCA Commissioner Richard E. Constable, III, whose Department administers many of the state’s Sandy Recovery programs. “Because of these grants, more homeowners stayed in their home counties to recover than otherwise would have. We’re proud that $182 million in Resettlement funds have been disbursed and that 98 percent of eligible applicants have already received their grants.”

“I hope to stay in my house for much longer than three years,” said Cheryl Gill of Brigantine who received one of the Homeowner Resettlement checks. “After what we’ve been through, we’re not going anywhere.”

Ms. Gill said she is using her Resettlement grant to meet house expenses that were not covered by insurance or by her Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) Program grant.

“The Resettlement grant really helped us out quite a bit,” she said.



The federal government approved the state’s Action Plan to begin spending the $1.83 billion first round of CDBG Disaster Recovery funds on April 29, 2013. In less than a month, on May 24, 2013, DCA began accepting applications to the Resettlement Program. To qualify for the Resettlement grant, homeowners had to live in one of the nine counties HUD designated as most impacted by Sandy, their home had to be their primary residence at the time of the storm, they had to register with FEMA for disaster assistance, and their residence had to have sustained at $8,000 or more in damage or at least one foot of water on the first floor.

Shore Lawmakers: Keep Sandy Aid In NJ!

Republican legislators representing Jersey Shore communities impacted by Superstorm Sandy will introduce resolutions in both houses of the NJ State Legislature urging the United States Congress to block a reported effort by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to divert more than $1 billion from remaining Sandy aid funding to projects in other parts of the country.

The resolutions will be introduced by Senator Jim Holzapfel and Assemblyman Greg McGuckin, both of the 10th District. Senators Joe Kyrillos (R-13), Jennifer Beck (R-11), Robert Singer (R-30) and Christopher Connors (R-9) will join as co-sponsors of the Senate Resolution. Assembly members Dave Wolfe (R-10), Brian Rumpf (R-9), DiAnne Gove (R-9) and Declan O'Scanlon (R-13) will join as co-sponsors of the Assembly resolution.

The legislators issued the following joint statement:

"Despite the readily visible and widespread destruction caused by Superstorm Sandy, New Jersey had to fight for months to get Congress to approve an aid package. No other state that has been the victim of disaster on the scale of Sandy has had to jump through the hoops that New Jersey had to for federal aid.

"Now, HUD wants to take away more than a billion of federal Sandy disaster assistance while thousands of our residents and business owners are still waiting for help. That's just wrong.

"The aid that Congress approved for Sandy recovery should not be diverted around the nation for unrelated purposes. New Jersey's congressional delegation must step up and oppose HUD's harmful and unjust plan."

Monday, April 21, 2014

Spring's Magic Brush Paints Everything Bright!






















Everywhere you look, spring's magic brush is doing its wondrous work.
That superbright, fresh, new green is back.
And it brings pinks and vivid yellows and blush and violet and bright white with it -- all against a comforting blue sky.
The combinations of spring colors are endlessly beguiling. And indeed, on a day like today that can be downright rapturous.
Get out and enjoy it all!
Photos copyright 2014 by Dan Cirucci.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Christie Submits Plan For Federal Storm Funds

The Christie Administration today announced that it has submitted its proposed plan for allocating the second round of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Disaster Recovery funds to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for review and approval. The plan details how the state will spend $1.46 billion in federal CDBG Disaster Recovery funds to rebuild Sandy-damaged homes and rental housing; support the hardest hit and financially strained communities; purchase flood-prone homes; and finance infrastructure resiliency projects throughout New Jersey to protect the state from future storms. The Christie Administration submitted the plan to HUD on March 25.

“In the eleven months since our Action Plan was approved by the Obama Administration, we have made tremendous progress in helping New Jerseyans recover from the worst natural disaster in our state’s history,” said Governor Christie. “Without a doubt, we still have much to do. Families are still out of their homes and many communities remain in need of assistance. I thank HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan for his assurance of a quick review so that we can continue getting relief out to the many people who were devastated by Superstorm Sandy.”

In developing a plan for allocating the second round of CDBG Disaster Relief funds, the Christie Administration undertook extensive public outreach efforts. The Administration met with mayors and other local officials across the nine most-impacted counties as determined by HUD; held numerous meetings and conference calls with nearly 100 stakeholder groups and long-term recovery organizations focused on how to best use the second round of CDBG Disaster Recovery funds; engaged the Association of Counties, League of Municipalities, and the Conference of Mayors; and briefed key state legislative staff and staff of New Jersey’s congressional delegation.

Additionally, the state held a 30-day public comment period during which comments were submitted by email and U.S. mail. The state also hosted three public hearings in February - one each in the state’s southern, central and northern regions - in order to give residents the opportunity to provide public comment. Hundreds of public comments from residents, local and state elected officials, long-term recovery groups and other stakeholder organizations were received. The proposed plan submitted to HUD includes a summary of all public comments received and the state’s responses to the comments. The state has modified the proposed plan, as initially proposed for public comment, based on the input provided and in consultation with HUD.

HUD has up to 60 days to approve the proposed plan. Given the timeline for federal approval, the state expects to receive access to the funds for relief programs by late spring.

Because the state’s housing needs remain substantial, the Christie Administration is proposing to spend $775 million of second round CDBG Disaster Recovery funds to support Sandy-impacted homeowners and renters. The plan also proposes a $500 million investment in infrastructure in recognition of the fact that Sandy’s storm surge and flooding highlighted vulnerabilities in the state’s transportation, energy, flood prevention and water infrastructure systems.

“We’ve heard the comments from affected residents and stakeholder representatives, and we understand their frustration with the pace of the recovery effort. Notwithstanding the limited federal funds, the state is working quickly to expedite the process, where possible, and to get families and communities back to normal,” said New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Richard E. Constable III, whose department administers the distribution of CDBG Disaster Recovery funds for the state. “The $1.46 billion in additional federal funding is another step in the right direction.”

For the second allocation, the Christie Administration is proposing to spend $775 million on housing assistance programs, of which $490 million is projected to assist low-to-moderate-income families. The plan calls for:

· $390 million for the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation & Mitigation (RREM) Program, which is the state’s largest Sandy housing recovery initiative. The funding would be added to the $710 million provided in the first round. To date, more than 5,400 Sandy-impacted homeowners have been preliminarily awarded a RREM grant. The additional funding would enable approximately 3,000 eligible homeowners to move off of the program’s waitlist and begin the grant process.

· $200 million for the Fund for Restoration of Multi-Family Housing to help develop affordable multi-family rental housing. The funding would be added to the $179 million allocated to the program in the first round. To date, funding has been committed to 36 affordable housing projects to create nearly 2,500 housing units for low- to moderate-income residents.

· $100 million for the New Jersey Blue Acres Buyout Program to purchase flood-prone homes that will move people out of harm’s way and create natural systems to absorb flood waters from future storms. To date, more than 420 properties statewide have been approved for acquisition.

· $40 million for the LMI Homeowners Rebuilding Program to focus exclusively on low- to moderate-income families who did not previously apply to the RREM Program. In response to the public comments submitted to the proposal and in consultation with HUD, the state wants to make certain that vulnerable LMI households apply for the federal aid available to them. The state plans to work with community-based non-profit organizations to disseminate information about the program.

· $25 million for the Sandy Special Needs Housing Fund to help develop permanent supportive affordable housing for special needs populations. The funding would be added to the $25 million provided to the program in the first allocation. To date, funding has been committed to 15 projects to create affordable housing opportunities for more than 190 residents with special needs.

· $20 million for the Neighborhood Enhancement Program to help stabilize neighborhoods in the nine most-impacted counties that were previously struggling under the burden of abandoned, foreclosed and vacant properties. To date, nearly $26 million in Neighborhood Enhancement Program funding has been committed to 33 projects to create 170 housing units for low- to moderate-income residents.

Additionally, the proposed plan would commit $500 million to the following infrastructure programs:

· $200 million for the New Jersey Energy Resilience Bank to fund projects that would ensure a highly reliable power supply to critical public facilities such as water and wastewater treatment plants, hospitals, shelters, emergency response centers and transit networks in the event the larger electrical grid fails.

· $100 million for the Flood Hazard Risk Reduction and Resiliency Measures Program to fund projects that would help protect areas at high risk of storm surge or flooding through such measures as flood walls, pump stations, wetlands restoration, permeable pavement, rain gardens and bio-retention basins.

· $200 million to help government entities meet federal funding match obligations for a variety of recovery and resiliency projects such as repairing or constructing roads, bridges, levees, public buildings, water and sewer treatment plants, power generation and distribution facilities, sand dunes, beaches, telecommunication systems, and recreational facilities.

Finally, the state is proposing to continue to encourage economic development and to support hard hit, financially strained municipalities:

· $85 million for the Essential Services Grant Program to assist Sandy-impacted local government entities in maintaining essential services such as police and fire protection while their communities are rebuilt. The funding would be added to the $60 million provided in the initial allocation. To date, more than $44.5 million in funding has been awarded to 11 Sandy-impacted local governmental entities.

· $10 million for the Unsafe Structures Demolition Program to demolish unsafe Sandy-impacted structures, remove debris, and perform any additional activities related to demolitions. The funding would be added to the $15 million provided in the first round.

· $10 million for planning initiatives, including funding for the Post Sandy Planning Assistance Grant Program to help Sandy-impacted local governments plan their rebuilding efforts to promote resilience and encourage economic growth. The funding would be added to the $5 million provided to the program in the initial allocation. To date, the state has received requests for Post-Sandy Planning Assistance Grants from local governments for $4.7 million.

· $5 million to continue a marketing campaign to encourage tourism in Sandy-impacted areas.

· $5 million for the Code Enforcement and Zoning Program to help code enforcement and zoning offices in Sandy-impacted municipalities respond to the influx of rebuilding applications. The funding would be added to the $6 million provided in the initial allocation.

CDBG Disaster Recovery funds are intended to support local rebuilding efforts after private insurance, FEMA, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), or other available sources of funds have been applied. HUD also requires that 50% of the funding benefit low-to-moderate-income households. In New Jersey, HUD further mandates that 80% of the CDBG Disaster Recovery dollars be spent in the nine most-impacted counties, which include Atlantic, Bergen, Cape May, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, and Union counties.

DCA will make the second round Action Plan available in English and Spanish on the DCA’s website in early April upon completion of the Spanish translation.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Video: LA TV Anchors React To Earthquake



KTLA Anchors dive under the NEWS DESK while a 4.4 Earthquake rumbles through Los Angeles.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Storm: Christie Declares NJ State Of Emergency

With severe winter weather expected to arrive in New Jersey tonight, Governor Chris Christie declared a State of Emergency, authorizing the State Director of Emergency Management to continue coordinating all preparation, response and recovery efforts for the storm with all county and municipal emergency operations and governmental agencies. Governor Christie also announced the closing of state offices on Thursday, February 13th for all non-essential employees.

“This winter storm is expected to arrive tonight and last through early Friday morning, and the heavy snow will create hazardous travel conditions across the state,” said Governor Christie. “I’ve authorized state officials to continue all necessary actions, and my Administration will monitor conditions throughout the remainder of the storm. I encourage all New Jerseyans to drive carefully and remain off the roads if possible so that our first responders and public safety officials can safely respond to any emergency situations.”

Tonight’s storm is expected to continue into Friday morning, bringing heavy snow, freezing temperatures and mixed precipitation, as well as dangerous and icy conditions that will affect travel throughout the state for several days. A potential mixture of fallen trees, power outages and flooding is anticipated.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

TV Weather-Hypers Create Panic, Hike Ratings



Sadly, this is what now passes for TV news (aka "journalism").

More Post Sandy Buyout Funds Announced

In New jersey, the Christie Administration today announced the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has awarded the state $26.3 million in federal Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funding for the voluntary acquisition of 89 homes in flood-prone sections of Woodbridge. This action is part of the Administration’s plan to buy out homes from willing sellers impacted by Superstorm Sandy to preserve the land as open space and protect against future flooding.

With this next round of funding, FEMA has now approved $100 million for the purchase of 361 homes in Sayreville, South River and Woodbridge in Middlesex County. These communities sustained extensive flooding from the Raritan River, South River and Woodbridge River, as well as storm surge from the Raritan Bay, during Sandy.

“We continue to make excellent progress toward our goal of moving willing sellers in flood-prone areas out of harm’s way,” said Governor Christie. “In cooperation with the federal government, my Administration is working hard to expedite this process and to help these victims of the storm get on with their lives.’’

So far, the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Blue Acres Program has made 272 buyout offers in Sayreville and South River, and has closed on 27 Sayreville homes, including four in the past week, with several dozens more nearing settlement. The acquisition process in Woodbridge is in the early stages.

Of the 272 buyout offers made in Sayreville and South River, 155 have been accepted by residents in both towns. The Blue Acres team is working to finalize closings on those 155 properties.

“We remain committed to helping guide these Sandy-impacted families through this process, knowing the impact it has on their lives,’’ said DEP Commissioner Bob Martin. “Our DEP team of case managers is working closely with the impacted families and with FEMA to ensure that willing sellers have their applications processed quickly and smoothly, with minimal red tape.’’

The Christie Administration has committed more than $300 million to the buyout program that is targeting 1,000 properties in tidal areas affected by Sandy and another 300 properties inthe Passaic River Basin that have repeatedly flooded. The Blue Acresprogram also is working on potential buyouts in East Brunswick, Linden, Manville, Old Bridge, Neptune, Newark, Union Beach, and another section of Woodbridge, and has engaged in dialogue with residents and officials in many other communities.

Once acquisitionsare completed, the homes will be razed and the land will be permanently maintained by the municipalities as open space, accessible to the public for recreation and conservation purposes, and able to absorb flood waters and reduce the need for future disaster assistance by police, fire, emergency crews and other first responders.

In a separate buyout effort, the state’s Blue Acres Program and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service are partnering to buy and preserve as open space the Bay Point section of Cumberland County’s Lawrence Township, including 33 homes. That land will be converted to open space that will provide wildlife habitat and buffers against flooding.

FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program will provide 100 percent of the funding for buyouts in Sayreville and South River, plus this first round of Woodbridge buyouts. Additional federal funding to acquire other properties impacted by Superstorm Sandy, including the next round of homes in Woodbridge, will be provided through the $1.46 billion second round of federal Community Disaster Block Grant (CDBG) Disaster Recovery funds allocated to New Jersey by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

An independent licensed appraiser hired by the state conducts property appraisals. The appraisals are predominantly based on the value of the property before Sandy. These appraisals are the basis for the amount offered for each property.

The DEP has created a special team in its Blue Acres Program to work closely with sellers and process their applications as quickly as possible. The team is reaching out to individual homeowners personally and guiding them through the process.

Launched in 1995 the initial Blue Acres Program targeted purchases of lands in floodways in the Delaware, Passaic and Raritan river basins, but was later expanded to include all state waters. Eligible properties are those that have been storm damaged, that are prone to incurring storm damage, or that may buffer or protect other lands from such damage.

Homeowners interested in selling their homes through this process may contact the DEP’s Blue Acres Program at 609-984-0500.

For more information on the Blue Acres Program, visit: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/greenacres/blue_flood_ac.html

For information on Sandy Recovery, visit: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/special/hurricane-sandy/

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Christie Declares State Of Emergency For Wed.

In anticipation of the severe winter weather expected to arrive in New Jersey tonight, Governor Chris Christie declared a State of Emergency, authorizing the State Director of Emergency Management to continue coordinating the preparation, response and recovery efforts for the storm with all county and municipal emergency operations and governmental agencies. Governor Christie also authorized the closing of state offices on Wednesday, February 5th for all non-essential employees.

“Tonight’s winter weather is expected to produce snow and ice, creating hazardous travel conditions and affecting areas throughout the state that are already recovering from yesterday’s storm,” said Governor Christie. “I’ve authorized state officials to continue all necessary actions to assist, and my Administration will continue monitoring conditions throughout the remainder of the storm. I encourage all New Jerseyans to drive carefully and remain off the roads if possible so that our first responders and public safety officials can safely respond to any emergency situations.”

Tonight’s storm is expected to continue into tomorrow afternoon, bringing additional snow and ice to areas that experienced significant snowfall during yesterday’s storm. A potential mixture of hazardous travel conditions, fallen trees, power outages and flooding are anticipated.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Snow: Christie Declares State Of Emergency

With today’s severe winter weather expected to result in dangerous travel conditions for several days, Governor Chris Christie today declared a State of Emergency, authorizing the State Director of Emergency Management to activate and coordinate the preparation, response and recovery efforts for the storm with all county and municipal emergency operations and governmental agencies. Governor Christie also authorized a staggering dismissal for all non-essential state employees beginning at noon. The staggering closing schedule will help to alleviate traffic congestion and reduce travel hazards.

“Today’s winter storm is expected to produce heavy snow and travel hazards throughout the state, affecting tonight’s evening commute,” said Governor Christie. “I’ve authorized state officials to take all necessary action to prepare, and my Administration will continue monitoring conditions throughout the remainder of the storm. I encourage all New Jerseyans to drive carefully andremain off the roads if possible so that our first responders and public safety officials can safely respond to any emergency situations.”

Already affecting parts of the state, the storm is expected to continue into the afternoon, bringing heavy snow and mixed precipitation throughout the state. A potential mixture of hazardous travel conditions, fallen trees and power outages and coastal, stream and river flooding are anticipated.

State Moves To Shift Some Sandy Recovery Funds

The Christie Administration today announced the state’s request to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to amend the current New Jersey Disaster Recovery Action Plan to provide $17 million in tenant-based housing vouchers for low-income families and to create a $5 million Lead Hazard Reduction Program to protect children from increased lead poisoning threats in Sandy-damaged homes.

“This amendment continues the Christie Administration’s commitment to helping all Sandy-impacted families, regardless of income, settle into safe and affordable homes,” said New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Richard E. Constable III, whose department administers many of the state’s Sandy Recovery programs. “Additionally, this amendment seeks to remove lead hazard threats, which have become increasingly problematic as a result of flooding from Sandy, in communities affected by the storm.”

The substantial amendment would shift funding to provide rental assistance in the form of tenant-based vouchers for low-income families that were displaced by Sandy and, in so doing, prevent Sandy-related homelessness. More than 800 families receiving vouchers as a result of Sandy would be helped by the tenant-based housing vouchers proposed in the substantial amendment.

It would also create the Lead Hazard Reduction Program, which would provide $5 million in funding for lead assessment and remediation in Sandy-impacted homes, which are potentially at greater risk of lead threats due to flooding that has caused lead-based paint to flake. This new program would complement an effort to test young children, pregnant mothers and Sandy recovery workers for blood lead levels being administered by the New Jersey Department of Health with Social Services Block Grant funding from the federal government. Flooded homes built prior to 1978 are more likely to experience increased lead hazards.

The amendment proposes to shift funds from the existing Landlord Incentive Program, which aims to increase affordable housing by providing funding to rental property owners to subsidize rents. By transferring funds to tenant-based vouchers, the state seeks to accomplish the same goal of increasing affordable housing by providing vouchers directly to tenants to defray rental costs. Federal rules prohibit this kind of direct assistance, which is why the state is seeking a waiver from HUD.

The New Jersey Disaster Recovery Action Plan, which was approved April 29, 2013, details how the state is distributing the $1,829,520,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Disaster Recovery funds allocated by HUD to help homeowners, renters, businesses and communities impacted by Sandy. Pursuant to guidelines from HUD, the Action Plan focuses predominantly on the nine counties most affected by the storm as determined by HUD (Atlantic, Bergen, Cape May, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, and Union) and on assisting low- to moderate-income families.

Under the Action Plan, $379 million of these funds are directed to housing recovery programs designed to assist renters, including by replenishing the stock of rental housing throughout Sandy-affected areas, repairing affordable rental units left uninhabitable by the storm, and providing affordable housing for residents in need. The State anticipates that approximately 7,000 new affordable housing units statewide will be created over the next two years as a result of these affordable rental housing programs.

The Christie Administration opened a 30-day period through March 5, 2014 for the public to comment on the second substantial amendment of the Action Plan. The proposed amendment may be obtained in English and Spanish athttp://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/sandyrecovery/action/ on the DCA’s website. Written comments on the amendment will be accepted atsandy.publiccomment@dca.state.nj.us until 5:00 p.m. on March 5, 2014.