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MacArthur Urges DHS to provide South Jersey with fair share of emergency funding

By NJG Press Releases, March 29 2018 12:53 pm

 

 

Contact: Camille Gallo
202.225.4765 (office)

MacArthur Urges DHS to provide South Jersey with fair share of emergency funding

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Tom MacArthur is urging DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to reform the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) so federal funds are allotted directly to counties in each zone, like Burlington County, not to a single, large municipality, such as Philadelphia.

 

In Fiscal Year 2017, the Philadelphia UASI zone, an area comprised of counties within Pennsylvania and New Jersey, received a total of $17,763,000.  However, despite New Jersey’s high population density, risk of terror threat, designation as an evacuation area, and exposure to hurricanes, New Jersey has received none of this funding.

 

Congressman MacArthur wrote, “If Philadelphia were to be evacuated, Mount Laurel, a suburban town in New Jersey, is marked as a major evacuation zone. All first responders from the Delaware River to the Atlantic Ocean will be connected to Burlington County Public Safety telecommunication towers. Any building within the zone that could be utilized as a shelter will house the evacuees. Currently, Burlington County is in the process of upgrading their telecommunication broadband system according to FCC standards. It is hard to imagine giving the region such a large responsibility to provide aid and failing to provide the resources necessary to upgrade critical telecommunication systems.”

 

“Emergency preparedness is critical to the safety and well-being of every man, woman, and child in Burlington County. That’s why the Freeholder Board is in the process of a $40 million public safety communications upgrade project so that all of the county’s first responders will operate on a comprehensive, state of the art radio system, according to new FCC standards,” said Burlington County Freeholder Director Kate Gibbs. “While there is no questioning the merits of this project, our taxpayers deserve fairness and shouldn’t shoulder the entire costs of this unfunded federal mandate. I am thankful Congressman MacArthur will take up this issue in Washington and fight for the resources we need.”

 

 

Full Text of Letter:

 

March 9, 2018

Hon.  Kirstjen Nielsen, Secretary

U.S. Department of Homeland Security

64 New York Avenue NE

Washington, DC 20002

 

Dear Secretary Nielsen,

 

Following a recent meeting with Burlington County Freeholder Director Kate Gibbs, I am writing in regard to the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI). I am urging you to reform the program so federal funds are allotted directly to the counties in each zone, not to a single, large municipality, such as Philadelphia.

 

Since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Congress has taken important steps in developing preventative measures against future attacks and/or catastrophic events, including the creation of the UASI program. As you are aware, a UASI zone is determined through an analysis of relative risk faced by the 100 most populous Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) in the United States.

 

In Fiscal Year 2017, the Philadelphia UASI zone, an area comprised of counties within Pennsylvania and New Jersey, received a total of $17,763,000.  However, despite New Jersey’s high population density, risk of terror threat, designation as an evacuation area, and exposure to hurricanes my state has received none of this funding.

 

As an example, if Philadelphia were to be evacuated, Mount Laurel, a suburban town in New Jersey, is marked as a major evacuation zone. All first responders from the Delaware River to the Atlantic Ocean will be connected to Burlington County Public Safety telecommunication towers. Any building within the zone that could be utilized as a shelter will house the evacuees. Currently, Burlington County is in the process of upgrading their telecommunication broadband system according to FCC standards.  The county rightfully and responsibly identified that there were multiple radio dead zones in rural parts of the county, and that during times of high radio traffic, police radios would lose signal.

 

It is hard to imagine giving the region such a large responsibility to provide aid and failing to provide the recourses necessary to upgrade critical telecommunication systems. For this reason, I request that you work to reform the UASI program so that the areas surrounding these MSAs have the resources to provide necessary aid in the event of an emergency.

 

Thank you for your consideration of this important matter. I look forward to working with you to ensure that South Jersey is prepared should tragedy strike.

 

Sincerely,

Tom MacArthur

Member of Congress

 

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 Camille M. Gallo

Communications Director

Congressman Tom MacArthur (NJ-3)

Phone: (202) 225-4765

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