Housing for displaced New Jersey residents will become the focus in the post-Sandy disaster recovery process, U.S. Homeland Security Director Janet Napolitano said.
Napolitano was touring disaster recovery areas in Monmouth County on Sunday, including a stop at a Monmouth County supply distribution center at Holy Family School in Hazlet where she held a press conference with New Jersey officials.
“We know we lost a lot of housing in this area,” Napolitano said. “What we want to focus on is debris removal so that equipment can get in, so that housing inspections can be done and housing repairs for houses that can be repaired are done.”
Napolitano encouraged New Jersey residents who sustained property damage or lost their homes during the storm to register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) so their needs can be assessed and addressed.
“We’ve identified and are identifying temporary housing that we will pay for – that’s part of the individual assistance declaration that the president signed,” Napolitano said.
In the immediate, gasoline availability and providing food, water and clothing to disaster victims remains a concern, she said.
FEMA dispatched 4,400 personnel into the area to go door to door to speak with residents and address their needs, Napolitano said. The agency has also provided over 8 million liters of water and a million meals and will keep that supply stream open for as long as necessary, according to the director.
Napolitano urged residents to explore mass transportation options while gas lines continue to pose a problem. The Department of Transportation provided 200 buses to assist the region.
“We ask people to gauge your gas needs to what you really need. We ask people to use mass transit to the extent they can. That would help everybody as we get everything restored,” Napolitano said.
To register with FEMA for federal disaster assistance, call 1-800-621-3362 or visit disasterassistance.gov.