By Timothy J. Carroll | August 30th, 2011 - 1:34pm
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TRENTON – Gov. Chris Christie sent a letter to President Barack Obama on Monday requesting an expedited disaster declaration for the state in the wake of Hurricane Irene.

Christie sought “an expedited declaration of a major disaster for the entire State of New Jersey from the federal government to assist state and local governments, as well as individually affected residents, to receive federal assistance as quickly as possible.”

Christie’s request was echoed by U.S. Sens. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), but the state may be be a lower priority for the feds than other hurricane-ravaged seaboard states. While FEMA and Homeland Security directors are visiting North Carolina and Vermont, FEMA Deputy Administrator Rich Serino will be examining New Jersey after he makes the rounds in Connecticut.

Christie’s letter stated, “Hurricane Irene was a catastrophe of enormous severity and magnitude and the storm conditions required emergency shelters to be established in 16 counties to house nearly16,000 evacuees, while over 700,000 residences suffered power outages.

“Torrential rains have caused significant flooding in areas across the state, impacting residences, major and local roads, and necessitating highway closures and a suspension of rail services. Recovery efforts are still ongoing in the aftermath of the disaster.

“In light of these conditions and the serious impact they are having on New Jersey’s communities, field damage assessments should not be required to determine the State’s eligibility for supplemental federal assistance. Immediate federal assistance is needed now to give New Jersey’s residents a helping hand at an emotionally and financially devastating time.”

Christie’s office stated that later today, after surveying flood damage in northern New Jersey and meeting with homeowners and volunteers, the governor will provide an update in Wayne on conditions and recovery efforts.

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