Governor Christie Announces Federal Approval of Request for Reimbursement to Local Governments for Debris Removal Efforts on Private Property

Trenton, NJ – Acting to speed New Jersey’s recovery process and securing additional resources for local governments’ debris removal efforts, the Christie Administration today announced that the federal government has approved its request for local governments to be reimbursed for debris removal conducted on private properties. With this approval secured, county and municipal governments in all 21 counties can now request to participate in the program and seek FEMA assistance for 75 percent of the cost of debris removal occurring on private properties. The participating county or municipal government will be responsible for the remaining 25 percent of the cost, the standard cost-share ratio for qualified public assistance expenses.

"One of the ways people psychologically recover is to see the evidence of the storm leave their communities, most visibly the widespread debris still present from Sandy’s destruction," said Governor Christie. "This program will give us another important tool to expedite these efforts, not just in our streets, parks, and downtowns, but in the front and back yards of our homes. Taking away those painful reminders from their everyday sight will mean much more than just removing trash – it will help restore our families’ hope and continue to show steady progress in our recovery."

To participate and request reimbursement of these costs, local governments must request the program and sign up through FEMA. The program will occur in two stages following a county or municipal government’s request to participate in the program. First, for storm debris removal from a private property, a municipality or county government will submit a letter to the FEMA federal coordinating officer requesting funding. After that, a separate letter can be sent to FEMA to request funding to demolish buildings and remove that debris.

For each of these two steps, local governments are responsible for obtaining Rights of Entry authorizations before any demolition or debris removal can begin on a private property. Importantly, debris removal contracted for or conducted by private individuals will not be eligible for reimbursement. FEMA cost share will only initiate for debris removal or demolition on a private property that is conducted by or contracted for by a participating municipal or county government. Reconstruction debris and normal garbage pick-up is not eligible for reimbursement and there are other limits to the work FEMA can fund. Other stipulations include the following:

  • Before any demolition can begin, properties 50 years or older have to be evaluated under the National Register of Historic Places for eligibility for that listing. Some homes considered historic – older than 50 years – may be eligible for the National Register and FEMA can’t take an action that would harm them. If a property is determined not eligible for the National Register, FEMA can pay for demolition and debris removal.
  • Below-ground issues will also be addressed. For example, if debris removal or demolition could adversely impact archeological resources, FEMA can’t pay for that work.

FEMA can only offer a debris removal program for private property when the debris on private residential and business property is so widespread that the public health, safety or the economic recovery of the community is threatened.  With the program now being instituted, State and FEMA officials are now in the process of explaining the program to local and county municipalities.


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Press Contact:
Michael Drewniak
Kevin Roberts

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