As President Joe Biden prepares to visit Manville, which was devastated last week by floodwaters caused by Tropical Storm Ida, he faces criticism for not including Union and Morris counties in a major disaster declaration he approved on Sunday.
This puts some pressure on Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes), an ally of the president and one of the most vulnerable House Democrats seeking re-election in 2022, to convince White House to add Union and Morris counties to the list.
“I’ve been touring Morris and Union counties and meeting with homeowners and business owners who suffered devastating flood damage as a result of Ida,” said Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr. (R-Westfield), Malinowski’s likely opponent. “It’s clear they have the same urgent need for federal support as the six New Jersey counties that have already been declared major disaster areas.”
Biden decision not to include Union County in his declaration also drew criticism from two Demcoratic state senators from Union County, Nicholas Scutari (D-Linden) and Joseph Cryan (D-Union).
“The remnants of Hurricane Ida brought unprecedented rainfall to many communities across New Jersey,” said Scutari and Cryan in a joint statement. “Union County was not immune to this extraordinary weather event which left 5 dead, hundreds homeless and thousands more who suffered significant property damage.”
Scutari is the Union County Democratic Chairman and Cryan is a former New Jersey Democratic State Chairman.
“We are asking President Biden to include Union County in the Major Disaster Declaration which will allow our residents access to essential funding to piece their lives back together again,” Scutari and Cryan stated. “Our most affected communities will need resources for temporary housing and home repair grants as well as other programs that will cover uninsured property loss.”
The White House’s move to exclude Morris County will also impact another Democrat running in a Republican-leaning district, Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair).
The White House move potentially gives Kean a new issue: that Malinowski was unable to convince the Biden administration to deliver federal aid to two key counties.
“I urge President Biden to extend the major disaster declaration to Union and Morris counties to ensure that all of our communities gets the help they will need for a full and successful recovery,” said Kean, who came within one percent of unseating Malinowski last year.
Biden’s order affects Bergen, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Passaic, and Somerset. Essex County was also not on the list.