Gov. Chris Christie has requested that Atlantic, Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties be declared disaster areas following the powerful thunderstorms of June 23. What does that request mean to you if you live in those areas?

Downed trees along a street in Sewell (Chris Coleman, Townsquare Media NJ)

Christie made a request for assistance in a letter to President Barack Obama sent through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The request states that the storm was of "such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and the affected county and local governments."  Following a preliminary damage assessment (PDA) of the effects of the storm, Christie says the cost  of the storm exceeds $15 million.

Christie's letter also requested Hazard Mitigation (HMGP) assistance, which would direct federal dollars to local and state government agencies, as well as communities and relief agencies such as the American Red Cross, to go towards:

  • Emergency work
  • Protective measures
  • Debris clearance
  • Repair of damaged roads and other public infrastructure

According to FEMA procedure, individuals would apply to these organizations for funds. "Because HMGP funding is limited, they must make difficult decisions as to the most effective use of grant funds," explains FEMA.

Christie came under criticism for not immediately applying for federal dollars following the storms with many accusing the governor of putting his presidential aspirations first.

State Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) originally wanted Christie to declare a state of emergency. “We got the ‘you-know-what’ kicked out of us and we keep hearing that we haven’t met the threshold. There are financial thresholds that we have to meet (and) we think we have,” Sweeney said after the storm.

Greenwich Township Mayor George Shivery told the Courier-Post it was "great news" that Christie applied for the funds but critical of the time it took. "It's been a little time in coming."

On "Ask the Governor" two days after the storms hit, Christie explained that the state was beginning the process of filing for a joint FEMA-state preliminary damage assessment on the impact o help determine if the amount of damage would make the state eligible for federal aid.

330,100 Atlantic City Electric and PSE&G customers were without power for several days thanks to a massive amount of trees and branches that brought down transmission lines and took key sub-stations offline.

Kevin McArdle contributed to this report