FEMA officials inspect NJ hurricane damage

September 7, 2011 3:07:41 PM PDT
FEMA officials were in Mercer County, New Jersey to assess the damage done by Hurricane Irene.

They walked and talked one-on-one with Hamilton Township residents whose homes were ruined by the flood waters.

Many of those homes are now unlivable.

In the Cornell Heights section, public works crews were hauling away ruined furniture and filling dumpster after dumpster with debris.

The area was flooded with several feet of water when the Assunpink Creek overflowed during Hurricane Irene.

"They are soliciting homeowners in the neighborhoods as we speak giving our homeowners their options," said Mayor John Bencivengo of Hamilton Township.

Donna Pone's house was hammered. She's already had to pull out several feet of drywall from her first floor which was horribly flooded when a wall of water washed through her neighborhood.

"I lost everything. All my interior room furniture, all my cabinetry in both rooms, my bathrooms were destroyed," said Pone.

More than 15,000 NJ residents have already filed claims with FEMA asking for help paying for hurricane damage. Officials are urging storm victims who haven't registered to do so right away.

"The important thing is for people to get registered right now. Nothing happens unless you're registered, unless you fill out the paperwork," said Rep. Chris Smith.

More than 300 homes were affected in Hamilton and at least 4 basements collapsed under the force of the water.

"House is gutted so far," said Doug Moore, the brother of a flood victim. "I guess we'll start rebuilding as soon as we can."

Local officials say they are working as hard as they can to clean up the mess and get homes repaired and inspected quickly so the displaced can get back in as soon as possible.

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