Watch CBS News

Gov. Murphy Tours Ida Aftermath In New Jersey, Promises $10M For Businesses Dealing With Flooding

MILLBURN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy continued to tour the path of destruction Ida left behind Friday, speaking with residents who say they are overwhelmed by the cleanup ahead.

The storm is now blamed for at least 25 deaths in the Garden State, and six other people are still missing.

Murphy's first stop Friday was downtown Millburn, which saw colossal flooding. He went door to door with other state leaders to survey the damage.

"Millburn was crushed. The downtown small business community was crushed," he said. "The damage caused by Ida is significant by any measure, and recovering and rebuilding will require economic support. We will be there."

The governor announced a $10 million fund available immediately to businesses across the state dealing with flooding. Grants of up to $5,000 will be available starting next week.

IDA RESOURCES: How To Report Damage, Find Shelter, Food, Mental Health Support & More

Randy Guttenberg owns Chocolate Works on Main Street that was gutted from the flooding.

"A devastating mess," he said. "The basement filled to the ceiling, and then another 3 feet or so."

Watch Kiran Dhillon's Report

He and other business owners in town said they plan to apply.

"It's not a lot in the big scheme of the damage, but if it helps everybody -- and it will, it definitely helps -- so it's greatly appreciated," Guttenburg said.

"It's fabulous. I think it shows his concern for the community," said James Rotondo, who owns Goldberg's Deli. "Flooding is a concern, and I think it was great the was here."

PHOTOS: Hurricane Ida Remnants Batter Tri-State With Historic Rain, Tornado Reports

The grants may help business owners, but devastation persists.

In Elizabeth, where Murphy continued his tour Friday, the destruction was incredible. The river crested and sent water about 10 feet high, stranding some in their ground floor apartments. Four people died in an apartment complex.

Emotions were high in Cranford, where Murphy walked through a flood-prone neighborhood, CBS2's Meg Baker reported.

"This is my second time flooding. My in-laws, they flooded once down the shore and they got all the FEMA money they need to raise their houses," Randy Geis told Murphy.

"We got a good first step. Last night the president signed the first emergency declaration. That's a great step in the right direction," Murphy said.

"This could be prevented. We need the money. We need it now," Geis said.

Officials near the Rahway River have been working with the Army Corps of Engineers on a flood mitigation plan for decades.

"It would include finding a place to do the proper storage of water. So that, if you can store the water in the north, it will slow down the flow into the southern parts," said Union County Commissioner Betty Jane Kowalski.

A couple's home is inhabitable after they were rescued Thursday.

"We're having a baby in seven weeks," Samantha Cullari told Murphy.

Some 8th graders were going house-to-house to lend a hand.

"This is like an everyone knows everyone community. So we are all just trying to help out," said Mason Dangle.

U.S. Rep. Tom Malinowski was also there. He said the bipartisan infrastructure bill that is expected to be passed in September will help fund resiliency projects, flood control and storm water management projects.

Murphy said in recent years, a plethora of flood mitigation efforts have been put in place across the state, but more work is needed.

"This conversation is one that we'll continue having, certainly for the foreseeable future. But our attention right now turns to the task at hand - recovery and supporting our residents," he said.

The governor said he has also spoke to the Federal Emergency Management Agency about getting federal aid to the state.

CBS2's Kiran Dhillon and Meg Baker contributed to this report.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.