As of this week, hours at offices in western New Jersey staffed by FEMA and New Jersey Office of Emergency Management staff are being reduced, and will be open on a rotating basis, according to an announcement from Somerset County.
The Disaster Recovery Center office previously open in Somerset County is closed this week, to reopen on Monday, Dec. 3 for three days next week, according to the county. However, in an effort to continue serving Sandy disaster survivors, residents may visit any of the nine offices, including an office open Wednesday in Morris Plains.
As of this week, all DRC services will be available on a rotating basis for a period of three days at a time in each of the fixed center locations already identified by the state. Anyone can visit any DRC in any county or even another state.
- The Somerset County Disaster Recovery Center, located at 27 Warren St. in Somerville, will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 3, to Wednesday, Dec. 5, and Thursday, Dec. 13, to Saturday, Dec. 15.
The centers allow residents to speak one-on-one to recovery representatives. Federal Emergency Management program specialists are available to provide registration and other information, and to answer questions at the centers.
The following is a listing of all the DRCs affected by the change, to be open on the following dates from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., according to the Somerset County announcement:
- In Morris County, the office opened on Monday and will be open through Wednesday, and on Thursday, Dec. 6 through Saturday, Dec. 8 at the Morris Plains Community Center, 51 Jim Fear Drive, Morris Plains
- Burlington County — Thursday, Nov. 29 to Saturday, Dec. 1 and Monday, Dec. 10 to Wednesday, Dec. 12; Burlington Center Mall; 2501 Burlington-Mount Holly Road, Suite 215, Burlington.
- Cumberland County — through Wednesday, Nov. 28 and Thursday, Dec. 6 to Saturday, Dec. 8; Emergency Management Agency Office; 637 Bridgeton Ave., lower level, Bridgeton.
- Gloucester County — Thursday, Nov. 29 to Saturday, Dec. 1; Government Services Building; 1200 North Delsea Dr., Clayton.
- Mercer County — Monday, Nov. 26 to Wednesday, Nov. 28 and Thursday, Dec. 6 to Saturday, Dec. 8; Mercer County Community College, 1200 Old Trenton Road; West Windsor.
- Salem County — Monday, Dec. 3 to Wednesday, Dec. 5 and Thursday, Dec. 13 to Saturday, Dec. 15; Penns Grove EMS Building; 25 East Griffith St., Penns Grove
- Sussex County — Monday, Dec. 3 to Wednesday, Dec. 5; and Thursday, Dec. 13 to Saturday, Dec. 15; 1 College Hill Road, Newton.
- Warren County — Thursday, Nov. 29 to Saturday, Dec. 1, and Monday, Dec. 10 through Wednesday, Dec. 12; Franklin Township Municipal Building; 2093 Route 57, Broadway
The FEMA representatives at the centers include mitigation specialists who can provide guidance on cost-effective rebuilding and repair techniques to reduce property damage in future disasters.
At a forum for area residents sponsored by area legislators at the Bernards Township Library on Nov. 18, U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance advised (R-district 7) advised all with damage to register with FEMA.
Information can be found at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), or at FEMA's website, where residents also can apply for assistance. At the Bernards Township forum, residents were advised that even if rejected, they should apply again, making sure they file sufficient information, since sometimes applications are rejected as incomplete.
In addition to FEMA program specialists, customer service representatives from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) are available at the center's to answer questions about the SBA low-interest disaster loan program, and to assist with disaster loan applications.
A Small Business Administration (SBA) representative who was at the Bernards Township forum said that agency not only may arrange low-interest loans for businesses recovering from a disaster, but also homeowners and renters.
"Anyone who is in the affected area is welcome to apply," said Louise Porter, an SBA representative. She said the deadline for an application office is Dec. 31, and an SBA representative will be at FEMA disaster recovery offices.
Applying does not obligate someone to accept a loan, Porter said. But not receiving the loan also may make someone eligible for additional FEMA grants, she said.
Those affected by Hurricane Sandy are encouraged to apply for assistance before going to a DRC, according to information from Somerset County. Individuals can register for assistance and follow up on previous applications by registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov, or by web-enabled mobile device at m.fema.gov. To reach FEMA by phone or 711/VRS, call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 1-800-462-7585.