Nine towns in Essex County are getting a helping hand in post-Sandy recovery efforts thanks to a nearly $421,000 federal grant that will create 105 temporary jobs.
The money - awarded to Bloomfield, Belleville, Caldwell, Fairfield, Irvington, Livingston, Nutley, East Orange, Orange, the East Orange Water Commission and the Essex County government - is part of $15.6 million awarded to New Jersey by the Federal Hurricane Sandy Disaster National Emergency Grant. It will be used to fund 1,300 jobs in 16 counties across the state.
"The intent of the funding is to allow government agencies to hire unemployed people to help the state, counties and towns in their clean-up efforts,” said Harold J. Wirths, commissioner of the state's Department of Labor and Workforce Development, through which the grant is allocated.
The temporary jobs, some of which begin this week and will last for six months, were filled by currently unemployed Essex County residents. Their job duties will include cleanup, demolition, repair, renovation and reconstruction of public structures and land.
Sandy swept through the area a little more than a month ago, leaving in her wake a mess of power outages, downed wires and fallen trees, most of which has been already cleaned up, said Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr.
"We're doing pretty well, we made a lot of in roads as far as cleanup," he said. "In all our parks, there have been trees and debris, which 80 percent has been cleaned up."
Deborah Washington is one of 10 that landed a temporary job in town through the grant money, seven of which are Bloomfield residents. She begins working with Department of Public Works this week.
"We take a lot of pride in Bloomfield. I'm very happy to be a resident of Bloomfield. It's neighbor to neighbor, looking out for each other," said Washington, a 14-year Bloomfield resident.
Washigton, who is unemployed after losing her job as a medical manager, said she hopes the temporary gig will help land her something more permanent.
Councilman Michael Venezia said the added jobs are a nice boost to the township.
"Any time we get employees that doesn't have to come out of our budget, it's a plus," he said.
[Editor's note: This story originally published Dec. 3. It has since been updated with new information.]