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Biden Arrives in N.J. to Visit Areas Hit by Ida’s Flooding

Biden exited his helicopter onto the sun-drenched tarmac, dressed in a dark suit but no tie, and was greeted by a small group of dignitaries that included Gov. Phil Murphy and his wife, Tammy.

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Main Street covered in debris. Four days after Tropical Storm Ida dumped a large amount of rain, and a day before President Biden tours, recovery continues in Manville, N.J. September, 6, 2021
Ed Murray/NJ Advance Media for
(TNS) - President Joe Biden has arrived in New Jersey, where he will be visiting parts of Somerset County Tuesday to check out the heavy damage caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ida.

Biden’s helicopter Marine 1 touched down in Central Jersey Airport in Hillsborough at 11:36 a.m. preceded by a fearsome-looking trio of Marine Corps V-22 Osprey fixed-wing/helicopter aircraft carrying about three dozen people, most of them members of the White House Press corps.

Biden exited his helicopter onto the sun-drenched tarmac, dressed in a dark suit but no tie, and was greeted by a small group of dignitaries that included Gov. Phil Murphy and his wife, Tammy.

Biden is scheduled to travel to Manville to get a first-hand look at the destruction that occurred last week when Ida’s torrential rain caused widespread flash flooding, massive river flooding and several fires.

Surrounded by Secret Service agents, the Murphys and the First Couple climbed into the president’s black SUV, while others climbed into another dozen SUVs, which then filed out of the airport. The motorcade was led by two New Jersey State Police SUVs, with two more following up the rear, and also included several unmarked vans and two ambulances. In all, the president was on the ground at the airport for a total of 10 minutes

So far, 27 deaths in New Jersey have been blamed on the storm. Most of the victims drowned, the majority in vehicles that were submerged on roads that quickly turned to rivers in flash flooding caused by record-setting rainfall, despite advisories warning people not to travel.

Some of the victims were unable to escape from their basement apartment when raging torrents of water flowed in and rose high.

New Jersey’s death toll from Ida is the highest among the nine Gulf and Atlantic coastal states impacted by the storm. Eighteen deaths in New York, and 13 deaths in Louisiana were attributed directly and indirectly to the storm, according to reports.

On Thursday, the president approved an emergency declaration for all 21 counties in New Jersey, making state and local governments eligible for federal assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Then on Labor Day, Biden declared six New Jersey counties — including Somerset, where Manville sits — major disaster areas. That allows residents and business owners to seek financial assistance for their losses.

Manville, a borough with about 10,000 people, has become all too familiar with flooding. It wasn’t much of a problem before 1999, when Tropical Storm Floyd took many by surprise when it devastated the town. But storms have pummeled Manville with increasing frequency since.

Each time, residents and business owners go through a nightmare of rebuilding. Some have received government buyouts that allow them to leave behind their flood-prone homes. But others stay and weather the storms — some because they love the town, others because they don’t have another place to go.

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NJ Advance Media staff writer Amanda Hoover contributed to this report.

Len Melisurgo may be reached at LMelisurgo@njadvancemedia.com.

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