(TRENTON) – Governor James E. McGreevey sought
a Presidential Natural Disaster Designation for farms
in South Jersey hit hard by the massive rainstorm and
flooding on July 12 and 13.
Farmers, including some of the state’s cranberry growers, were
hit by the torrential rains, which unloaded as much as 14.5 inches of
water from Monday evening into early Tuesday morning. The storm and resulting
flooding caused damage to crops, property, farm equipment and water and
At the request of Agriculture Secretary Charles M. Kuperus, the Governor
sent a letter to President Bush seeking emergency relief for farmers
who suffered losses.
“New Jersey’s farmers deserve the best and fastest possible response
when a calamity of this magnitude hits,” Governor McGreevey said. “They
provide the backbone of one of our state’s largest industries, one that
is often at the mercy of the elements, as this massive storm demonstrated.”
Secretary Kuperus’ request for a Presidential declaration came
amid reports of extensive damage to some farms in Burlington and Camden
counties, including an initial assessment by the USDA’s Farm Service
Agency that the damage could be devastating to some cranberry farmers.
A Presidential disaster declaration would fast track federal assistance
beyond that normally sought in such situations.
Officials from the USDA Farm Service Agency continued to assess the storm’s
impact today and said they would not have total damage estimates for
about two weeks.
“The irony of this storm is that New Jersey’s farmers had been enjoying
one of the best seasons ever, thanks in large part to warm weather and moderate
rains,” said Secretary Kuperus. “This just shows the incredible amount
of damage that can result from even one major storm. What is fortunate is that
the most severe damage was fairly localized, while other portions of the state
received significantly less rainfall. In fact, the rainfall in most of the rest
of the state was needed and will be beneficial to the crops in those areas.”
Officials in the affected areas continued surveying the storm’s
aftermath today. Hundreds of residents in the Burlington County towns
of Medford, Medford Lakes, Mount Laurel, Lumberton and Southampton were
evacuated from their homes Monday night after flooding from creeks and
streams became a threat.
Farmers seeking help as a result of the storm should contact their local
Farm Service Agency office and report losses by logging onto www.fsa.usda.gov/nj/.
The FSA phone number for Burlington and Camden Counties is (609) 267-1639,
and for Atlantic County, (856) 205-1225. Questions on crop insurance
issues should be directed to Kim Linonis or Dave Lee at Garden State
Crop Insurance Education Initiative at 1-800-308-2449.