Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) today joined colleagues from the Northeast to testify at a hearing of the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works on Hurricane Sandy's impact and the needs of local communities following the destructive storm.
The following is his testimony:
"Madam Chairman, as I've traveled my district, a number of critical issues have come to light that we must address to move towards recovery. First, there is a great need for more temporary housing alternatives, including trailers and mobile homes. Many of my constituents had their homes rendered uninhabitable by this vicious storm. Additionally, we need FEMA to provide emergency funds to the Army Corps of Engineers so they can repair breached dunes and replenish beaches to protect the damaged areas from future storms.
"I have also requested that FEMA waive the 25 percent state/local match for public assistance repair work. Many municipalities in my district, some of which are very small, do not have the resources to contribute after this devastating storm.
"It is also critical for significant funding be made available for homeowners to pursue buyouts or grants to raise their homes in areas that flood frequently.
"The Secretary of Commerce has declared a fishery disaster due to the impacts of Sandy, but that should include both commercial and recreational fishing communities. Fish processors, charter boat operators, marinas, tackle and bait stores and other fishery related businesses have lost their equipment, infrastructure and expected revenues. Congress must ensure funds are allocated for fishery disaster assistance so that these individuals and businesses can receive relief while they rebuild and eventually return to business.
"As FEMA Administrator Fugate noted when I met with him recently, small business failure rates after a major disaster can exceed 70 percent. I believe we must work to avoid this by expanding CDBG grants to assist small businesses facing damage from the storm. I would also like to see CDBG grants available for homeowners whose insurance or FEMA grants do not provide enough funding to rebuild.
"We must continue to work in a bipartisan manner to quickly pass a robust supplemental appropriations package in the lame duck session that will help our communities rebuild after this historic storm."