State of emergency continues in N.J.

N.J. authorities had confirmed four deaths associated with Hurricane Irene Monday afternoon. The bodies of two men have been found in an inlet along the central New Jersey coast, according to the Associated Press, which may bring the state’s death toll to six.

Meanwhile, about 700,000 residents were still without electric power Monday afternoon and 4,000 evacuees were still in shelters. Garden State officials said the effects of the storm are far from over.

Nine rivers in New Jersey were at crest or about to crest Monday, said Sgt. Stephen Jones, a State Police spokesman.

“Some of the water is beginning to recede, but it’s still a major impact to travel all around the state. We’re asking people to make sure they’re staying off the roads if don’t really have to be out,” Jones said. “A state of emergency persists.”

Jones says federal and state emergency management teams were out assessing the storm damage, but it will take quite some time before they determine a bottom line.

“FEMA teams working with the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management teams, they’re out right now. They’re certainly beginning that process and some of that can’t be done until the water recedes a little bit more,” Jones said. “It’s going to be a long time until that assessment comes in.”

U.S. Rep. Rush Holt said some of his colleagues were talking about holding up federal disaster aid until the federal budget undergoes more cuts.

“There are some people, amazingly, who are saying in Washington that disaster assistance should be conditioned on further cutting in the budget to offset any expense. How un-American is that,” said Holt, adding that he expects that notion will fade away as the extent of the damage becomes clear.

“There are some people amazingly who are saying in Washington disaster assistance should be conditioned on further cutting in the budget to offset any expense. How un-American is that.”

Holt expects that notion will fade away as the extent of the damage becomes clear.

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