To help counties prepare for severe storms, N.J. may issue grants

Vince Jones with Atlantic County Emergency Management thanks New Jersey senators for proposing the measure. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Vince Jones with Atlantic County Emergency Management thanks New Jersey senators for proposing the measure. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Legislation proposed by New Jersey lawmakers would provide state grants to counties so they can better prepare for storms.

The money would help pay for supplies, maintaining equipment, and staging rescue operations.

The legislation would enable communities to react quickly in flood-prone areas and help residents recover faster, said Sen. Joe Vitale, D-Middlesex.

“The key to this is being prepared for the next storm, which is going to happen,” he said Monday. “With sea temperatures rising, the frequency of those storms and the power of those storms are much greater. When you have warmer water, you have more rain.”

Vince Jones, who coordinates Atlantic County’s Office of Emergency Management, said the funds for storm preparation are essential to help communities react quickly.

“It’s just a matter of time. We’re going to have something else that’s going to happen — be it a storm or, God forbid, another hurricane,” Jones said. “We have to have those capabilities, those abilities, and that planning in place. If not, we’re going to lose property, and we’re going to lose lives.”

State grants would ease the financial strain on counties that now pay for the equipment and supplies, officials said.

The amount of state assistance would be based on a county’s risk of natural disasters, said state Senate President Steve Sweeney.

“It’s going to cost a little bit of money. This legislation doesn’t create the dollar amount. This creates the process for the planning,” said Sweeney, D-Gloucester. “Then we’re going to identify the dollar amount through the budget process.”

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