LAMBERTVILLE, N.J. - This Labor Day has truly been a day of labor for those still dealing with the mess Hurricane Ida left behind.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy continues to tour the areas hit hardest by the storm; he assessed damage in Lambertville, Hunterdon County on Monday.
It comes the day after President Biden approved a disaster declaration, which allows residents and business owners in six Garden State counties, including Hunterdon County, to apply for federal aid.
"We grabbed the kids and jumped in the cars," Lambertville resident Nick Cepparulo told us about last Wednesday.
Within a half hour, Cepparulo's home was off its foundation.
"There was a huge surge that came down the creek and that's what really pushed it off," said Cepparulo. "We're not even in a flood zone. We don't have flood insurance."
Cepparulo has been finding his family's belongings all along Swan Creek. Fences, cars and pieces of roads were swept away.
"Disbelief. Horror. Shock," said Cepparulo.
“It went right up to my kitchen table, which is 36 inches," said Ronnie Vincent, who lives down the street from Cepparulo. "I'm going to a hotel. I have to take a shower. I have no hot water."
It’s been five days since Hurricane Ida ravaged Lambertville, but the effects are long lasting.
"I have old furniture,” said Vincent. “It has to come out because of the mold.”
Hurricane Ida took down two electricity poles on Quarry Street. One just missed Vincent's home.
“About 10 minutes later, the mud slide started. The trees came down after the mud slide,” said Vincent.
Vincent is worried about what's to come next time it rains, now that structures and trees have been weakened.
"These trees have to come down now,” said Vincent. “They just cut the sides off. This is like a bomb on top of a candle stick.”
Still, the ability to apply for federal dollars is something Cepparulo is thankful for, given that he has to find a new home, as he pays the mortgage left on this one.
"If we can have some federal help with that, that would make the world a difference to us," said Cepparulo.
Also making a difference are volunteers like Jennifer Defederico.
"If you can't come to us, we come to you," said Defederico.
She's dealing with damage to her own home, but is more focused on those who lost it all.
“We loaded up about 30 bags with cleaning supplies and stuff like that and we started delivering them," said Defederico. “You just get up and you keep going and you help other people because someone else has it worse than you.”
People in Bergen, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Passaic and Somerset counties can apply for federal aid online starting Tuesday at www.DisasterAssistance.gov.
They can also call 1-800-621-FEMA(3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. Those numbers will be in service from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.
Murphy says he is working to get these resources to other counties trying to build themselves back up.
“This is the first six,” said Murphy. “The most obvious six, but not necessarily the last six."