A total $10 million in financial relief is being made available to small businesses in the state that were impacted by Tropical Storm Ida, Gov. Phil Murphy announced this morning. The grant program, which can range from $1,000 to $5,000 for individual businesses, is being managed by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA).
According to NJEDA CEO Tim Sullivan, details of the funding program will be announced next week.
Speaking at a press conference in downtown Millburn, one of many municipalities that experienced severe flooding, Sullivan said that applying for the grants will be a “streamlined process.”
“For better or worse, we learned a lot about running efficient grant programs during the last 18 months,” Sullivan said, alluding to the COVID-19 pandemic. “We will have this money on the streets as fast as we can because we know that money from insurance companies and federal programs are well-meaning, but they can take some time. Small businesses need the help right now.”
Specifically, the grants will provide immediate rent/mortgage reimbursement support to New Jersey businesses and nonprofits with up to 50 employees that suffered physical damage on Sept. 1 and 2 and any additional flooding thereafter.
Under the preliminary grant plan, those businesses applying must:
Landlords and home-based businesses are not eligible for grant funding through the program.
According to Murphy, “It is clear that the damage caused by Ida is significant by any measure and rebuilding and recovering will require economic support. We will be there.”
Murphy said he has spoken to President Joe Biden and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administrator regarding emergency funding. “We have received the first step, which is the emergency declaration for the state. This means we get equipment, we get reimbursed for emergency expenditures, and it means that the federal government will come in to make assessments immediately as to how much more aid we may potentially be eligible for,” Murphy said.
In his communications with the president and FEMA, Murphy said the state has also requested additional emergency funding for homeowners, individuals and families impacted by the storm. “Our conversations [in this area] has been reassuring and we look forward to utilizing this federal support,” the governor said.
Regarding the NJEDA grant program, Murphy advised business owners to document everything they do during cleanup and recovery, from taking photos of all damage to saving receipts for purchases and contractor work, for example.
Currently, Tropical Storm Ida is responsible for 25 deaths in the state, with approximately six people reported as missing.
According to New Jersey Board of Public Utilities President Joseph Fiordaliso, 12,000 residents in the state are still without power, down from 92,651 at the peak of the storm. He asked residents and businesses to be patient until utility crews can restore power in a safe manner.
On a positive note, he said that infrastructure enhancements that have been made over the years in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy have held up. “None of our substations were flooded … that is what happened with Sandy, and that is why we were without power for so long,” he said.
New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti reported that all interstate highways are open and running smoothly, while state highways are open with pockets of flooding. She advised people to log onto NJDOT’s Twitter account for highway updates.
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