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FEMA Launches Rapid-repair System In NJ

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) â¿¿ Some New Jersey residents whose homes were damaged in Superstorm Sandy can now get grants of up to $10,000 for quick repairs under a pilot program announced Friday.

Under the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power program, repairs to make homes inhabitable will be covered.

Residents of Atlantic, Cape May, Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean counties can apply for the grants through their town governments for money to pay for repairs to electrical meters and electrical, heat and hot-water systems. Work on exteriors is also eligible if it would prevent further damage or protect residents' lives or property. The work must be done within 60 days of when the grants are approved.

The federal government is to pay three-fourths of the costs of the grants and the municipal governments to pay one-fourth.

FEMA launched a similar program in New York City soon after the storm hit in late October.

Gov. Chris Christie requested the program be put in place in New Jersey, too.

"We have made great strides since the height of the storm in restoring utility service and getting people back in their own residences, and this program will allow us to continue that work for those families facing these last hurdles to returning home," he said in a statement Friday.

The idea is to get people back into their homes where possible, even if other repairs may be needed.

Many homeowners also qualify for insurance payments for damage. They can also receive additional grants from FEMA and low-interest loans from the federal Small Business Administration to help pay for repairs.

As of Thursday, more than 2,600 New Jersey households were still staying in hotels or motels with the rooms paid for by FEMA.

FEMA inspectors determining how much repair grant money a home qualifies for had evaluated more than 106,000 structures and the SBA had approved more than $44 million in loans for home repairs and $4 million for businesses.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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