LINCROFT, N.J. – In the weeks after a federally declared disaster, emergency teams from government agencies, nonprofits and volunteer organizations work together to help survivors make their way out of danger and find food, clothing and shelter.
After the immediate emergency is over, the long work of recovery begins.
And as New Jersey survivors of Hurricane Sandy have learned over the past 18 months, full recovery from a devastating event like Sandy may take years.
Communities throughout New Jersey have been working hard to repair, rebuild and protect against future storms. In many cases, the challenges they face are formidable.
At the invitation of individual communities and in partnership with the state, FEMA’s office of Federal Disaster Recovery Coordination works with residents and municipal officials in impacted municipalities to develop a strategy for full recovery.
For communities that require assistance, the FDRC can provide a team of recovery specialists with a broad array of skills. Among them: civil engineering, architecture, land-use planning, economic development, environmental science and disabilities integration.
The FDRC is activated under the National Disaster Recovery Framework, which provides a structure for effective collaboration between impacted communities, federal, state, tribal and local governments, the private sector, and voluntary, faith-based and community organizations during the recovery phase of a disaster.
Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator consult with impacted municipalities and assist with long-term planning, helping these communities determine what their priorities are and what resources they will need to achieve a full recovery.
In major disasters or catastrophic events, the FDRC is empowered to activate six key areas of assistance known as Recovery Support Functions.
The RSFs are led by designated federal coordinating agencies: Housing (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development); Infrastructure Systems (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers); Economic (U.S. Department of Commerce); Health and Social Services (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services); Natural and Cultural Resources (U.S. Department of Interior); and Community Planning and Capacity Building (FEMA).
Working in partnership with a State Disaster Recovery Coordinator and a Hazard Mitigation Adviser, the FDRC oversees an assessment of impacted communities and helps to develop a recovery support strategy. That strategy helps these hard-hit communities gain easier access to federal funding, bridge gaps in assistance, and establish goals for recovery that are measurable, achievable and affordable.
Here in New Jersey, approximately 12 communities have partnered with FDRC to prioritize their goals for recovery, locate the resources needed to achieve those goals and rebuild with resiliency.
In the Borough of Highlands, FDRC has assisted this severely impacted community in developing a plan for a direct storm water piping system that will decrease flooding in the low-lying downtown area. FDRC has also collaborated with the community on designing a more resilient, attractive and commercially viable central business district called the Bay Avenue Renaissance Project. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has initiated a feasibility study on their plan to protect the town from future flooding via a mitigation effort that includes installing floodwalls, raising bulkheads and building dune barriers.
In the devastated Monmouth County town of Sea Bright, FDRC worked with the community to create a plan for the construction of a beach pavilion that will serve as a year-round community center, library, lifeguard facility and beach badge concession. FDRC is also working with Sea Bright officials to develop a grant application to fund streetscape improvements in the downtown area of this beachfront municipality
In Tuckerton, FDRC worked with municipal officials on a plan to relocate its heavily damaged police station and borough facilities to a former school building that is much less vulnerable to flooding.
In partner communities throughout the state, FDRC subject matter experts are working to help residents envision a future that incorporates a strong infrastructure, increased storm protection and an enhanced environment that reflects the vision of the community.