TRENTON, N.J. – Assemblyman Kevin J. Rooney expressed concern to DEP Commissioner Bob Martin during Wednesday’s Assembly Budget Committee hearing over the department’s ability to fund flood relief projects.
Rooney referred to testimony by department officials in February 2017 that the state does not have the money to fund approved projects at the Jersey Shore.
“This is a question for the entire state because it raises concerns about the DEP’s ability to address other areas with flooding issues,” said Rooney (R-Bergen). “Where I represent in parts of Morris and Passaic counties flooding is a major concern for residents.”
According to a NJ Spotlight report, Passaic and Morris county residents have historically filed the most severe flood loss insurance claims. Residents of Wayne Township have suffered 762 repetitive losses due to flooding over the past 35 years – more than any other municipality in the state.
Martin explained that while the state can fund already approved flood relief projects, proposed projects in the Passaic River basin could cost billions, and relief following a major flooding event would require significant funding from the federal government. The department’s strategy is to use the Blue Acres program to make significant buyouts.
“I urge the DEP to properly utilize their resources in order to mitigate the damages caused by future natural disasters,” concluded Rooney.