New Jersey to Offer Ida Relief Grants
Hurricane Ida attacked the Gulf Coast as a category four hurricane. Though areas around Louisiana weren't the only ones affected by this huge storm. Hurricanes rarely exist as independent events. They cause a variety of weather systems to form as they move through the atmosphere, which means other areas relatively close will get smacked with bad weather. On a global scale, relatively close means the northeastern United States, which got hit with massive rainfall and places in New Jersey and New York were dealing with flooding that they haven't seen in almost a century. In New Jersey specifically, Governor Phil Murphy announced recently that the state will be offering a $10 million grant pool for businesses and nonprofits that were affected by the hurricane.
To listen to the mainstream media, this is the first time in history the northeast has ever flooded. Though going all the way back to 1915, New York was feared to have been all but washed away by massive flooding. So, the weather hitting these locations is not unprecedented. We have thorough records of flooding in this region all throughout recorded American history. They're just rare. Being so rare, however, makes people more susceptible to damage. If one has lived their entire life in New Jersey, and a Gulf Coast hurricane has never before affected their lives, then they might think that they do not need to take precautions, only to find that their businesses were severely damaged after Ida stormed through. These are the people who need this grant money to recover and to get back to doing business.
New Jersey is hoping to make this $10 million stretch as far as it can by putting stipulations on the grants. The first stipulation is that the business (or non-profit) cannot exceed 50 employees. More than 50, the business considered a big business without enough profit margin to pay for the repairs themselves, or to at least have insurance cover what it can. Another stipulation is that these grants will be for $5,000 flat, no more and no less. Although some businesses were damaged more than others, depending on their location and the existing infrastructure surrounding them, Governor Murphy thinks it would be unfair to give some businesses more money than others.
State vs. Federal Funds
For a lot of people reading that the New Jersey grant pool offered up to businesses damaged by Ida is only $10, they wonder why the amount is so small. They see billions of dollars in grant programs being offered to restaurants in the wake of COVID-19. They see $500 million offered up to help 2,000 Afghan refugees relocated in America, which works out to $250k per person. So when they see only $10 million for hurricane relief, many are taken aback by that small amount. However, it's important to keep in mind here that these are state-specific funds from their reserve budget.
These funds were not voted on specifically or earmarked for any sort of relief, and they're certainly not coming from the federal government. The state of New Jersey doesn't have more money than what their tax revenue is, generally speaking, and they cannot just use the federal reserve to print money like the federal government can. So $10 million is about as much as New Jersey can muster up on short notice. It's actually quite a lot when one considers just how quickly Governor Murphy acted here to ensure that businesses would get something to help repair the damage.
Were these federal grants, of course the pool of money would be much larger. Ironically enough, however, a larger pool of money in no way means more grant money per business, or even more recipients of the grants. Look no farther than the restaurant industry, which was promised COVID relief grants, to find that billions of dollars just vanished, still unaccounted for, while tens of thousands of restaurants around the nation never got any grant money for which they applied. So, in actuality, a smaller pool of money is much easier to control, and damaged businesses will be able to receive this money very quickly to start the repairing process necessary to open back up.
Luckily for New Jersey residents, most of the damage is flood damage, and there weren't any high winds or huge storms that collapsed entire structures. What this means is that these grants should be more than enough to help some of the businesses in the area rebuild and thrive once again.