WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Tuesday issued a disaster declaration for 17 New Jersey counties, making them eligible for federal aid to reimburse counties and towns for the cleanup of January's winter storm.
Gov. Chris Christie had requested federal help following the Jan. 22-24 storm, which brought up to 30 inches of snow, plus high winds and flooding, and left around 270,000 homes without power. High tides caused coastal flooding in the southern part of the state, contributing to beach erosion and damaging dunes.
The state said the damage cost was around $82.6 million.
Christie's request was buttressed by a letter to Obama from the entire 14-member New Jersey congressional delegation, which also sought the aid.
"Recovery from this storm has been difficult for New Jerseyans, and we urge you to approve this request as soon as possible to ensure the people of New Jersey can begin to rebuild from this storm and mitigate against future disasters," the lawmakers wrote.
The governor, who was running for president at the time, cut short a campaign trip to New Hampshire to return to New Jersey but quickly went back to the first primary state once the storm passed.
Booker and Menendez tour winter storm damage in Sea Isle City U.S. Senator Bob Menendez and Cory Booker toured Sea Isle City with Mayor Len Desiderio to look at the damage from the weekend winter storm. 1/26/2016 (Lori M. Nichols | For NJ.com)
U.S. Sens. Robert Menendez and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-2nd Dist.) toured parts of the Jersey Shore after the storm, which caused coastal flooding in some of Cape May County's towns that exceeded the levels during Hurricane Sandy.
The counties affected are Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Somerset, Union, and Warren.
In addition, the White House made federal funding available to help cover the costs of snow removal in Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Somerset, Union, and Warren counties.