PATERSON, NJ –During his trip to Washington, D.C. to request federal disaster relief on Wednesday, Mayor Jeffrey Jones said he “kind of” understood how people’s frustrations can lead to terrorism – a gaffe for which he soon apologized, according to northjersey.com.
"The terrorism piece should not have been stated. I forgot I was in D.C.," Jones said in his apology, according to the northjersey.com article.
Jones made his terrorism reference during a press conference Wednesday attened by Sen. Robert Menendez and several other Senators.
Prior to heading for Washington, Jones had said he planned to emphasize the city’s desperate need for immediate help. “I’m not saying I’m asking for support anymore, what we need is dollars and cents,’’ the mayor said.
Jones said the city estimates $21 million in flooding expenses, a figure that doesn’t include damage done to private homes and businesses, Jones said. Nor does it include problems at education facilities, including School No. 4 which may be closed for several months while repairs are made.
At Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, Jones said between 40 and 50 Paterson homes were damaged beyond repair just from the Hurricane Irene flooding. Next week, the mayor said, the city would begin re-inspecting 1,184 houses to check the impact from the tropical storm flooding that followed a week afterward.
“People’s lives are laying on their lawns now,’’ the mayor said. “Some folks were told they cannot go home.’’
City officials said they are working with the Passaic County Board of Social Services and the Paterson Housing Authority to find apartments for the dozens of people whose homes are no longer habitable.
The Red Cross shelter at Riverside Veterans building on 5th Avenue, which still has about 70 evacuees, is scheduled to close on Friday. “I have nowhere to go when I leave there on Friday,’’ said Asia Bryant, speaking at the city council meeting. Bryant told officials she has been staying at the shelter because her home on N. Straight Street was destroyed in the flooding.
Byrant said other shelter residents have had better luck getting replacement housing because they are on various social service programs. “I’m not on welfare, I’m not on social security, nothing like that,’’ Bryant said.
City Council President Anthony Davis assured Bryant that the city would take care of her. “We’re not going to put you out with nowhere to go,’’ Davis said.
Many Paterson residents are concerned about the health impact of the flooding.
“You have sewage residue all along the sidewalks and on the streets,’’ said Akbar McEntyre, speaking at the city council meeting. “When the cars drive by there’s this fog that rises in the air. That’s the sewerage,’’ added McEntyre, a member of the POWER Coalition, a community group that has been working to assist flood victims.
Some residents complained to the council about the debris and garbage that has remained sitting outside their homes.
“The lack of garbage collections, it’s been horrendous,’’ said Margo Mayo, a Bergen Street resident. Mayo said the stench from the debris had become offensive and she said her neighborhood has been overlooked because it is viewed as a “low-income” area.
“We deserve a quality of life that doesn’t involve smelling garbage and looking at it every day,” she said.
“This is not new to us,’’ said Mayo’s sister, Karen, also a Bergen Street resident, about the flooding after Hurricane Irene. “The difference is that the struggle has now hit other neighborhoods.’’
“Hurricane Irene has been a blessing and a curse at the same time,’’ said Karen Mayo, “because it has brought national attention to our plight.’’
Three representatives from the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) attended Tuesday’s council meeting to give a brief presentation on safety and health issues involving the flooding.
“In general, floodwaters contain bad things,’’ like sewerage, bacteria from dead animals and contaminants from nearby industries, said David Kluesner, an EPA spokesman. “We urge residents to take proper precautions.’’
In the immediate aftermath of the flooding, the EPA crews focused on collecting floating containers of chemicals and other substances and on cleaning up heating oil spills in basements, officials said.
Next, the agency would begin conducting household hazardous waste collections, said Paul Kahn, an EPA on-scene coordinator.