News / USA

Government, Private Groups Active in Stricken New Jersey Cities

Greg Flakus
One of the New Jersey communities most affected by superstorm Sandy was the small city of Hoboken, just across the Hudson River from New York City, home to many people who work in the city and enjoy Hoboken's more relaxed environment.  Much of the city was flooded during the storm, as were tunnels connecting Hoboken to New York by rail. Help is pouring into the area from both government and private agencies.

The racket of gasoline-powered generators and the smell of water-soaked trash piled on sidewalks now define life in Hoboken.

Some stores and restaurants are open along the main avenues where electrical power has been restored, but the view of New York's skyline just across the Hudson River entices many residents who still can't get back to work there.

Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer assured a crowd in front of City Hall that the Federal Emergency Management Agency, known as FEMA, is helping the city restore services like electrical power more quickly.

"FEMA is part of the reason that we have been able to get these substations up faster than usual. FEMA has been part of a public-private partnership," Zimmer said.

FEMA workers, assisted by young volunteers from around the country, are in Hoboken to help people in need of help get through the process.

David, a local business owner, sought help in filling out claim forms. "I am very bad with computers," he said.

David has a food company that lost all its inventory when the electrical system failed. "Now I have the electrical power, but I had a lot of merchandise in the freezer that went bad," he said.

FEMA supervisor Maryanne Ludwig says this is just one part of what the federal agency is doing here.

"We are called Individual Assistance, so we help the individual; we also have public assistance crews that are out in the city," Lugwig said.

Private companies also are involved, including the local electric utility PSE and G, which set up a tent in downtown Hoboken and provided hot coffee, charging stations for cell phones and assistance with power-related issues.

But residents themselves are doing much of the work here, cleaning out flood-damaged buildings and homes.

New Jersey people have a good attitude, according to Americorps volunteer Sophia Efrenov ((eef-FRAY-noff)).

"I can really feel the 'Jersey Strong' motto here, there are a lot of really great, positive people," Efrenov said.

Even with all the government and private help coming in, the people of Hoboken face many months of recovery.

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