Good news this week for eastern Long Island and the other areas affected by Superstorm Sandy, as the House of Representatives passed a robust package of approximately $50 billion in emergency aid in a bipartisan vote. While this aid should have been approved weeks ago, it represents a strong and sustained commitment to rebuilding our communities. The Senate has already shown support for a similar aid package, so we can anticipate that this vital assistance will be approved next week.
If the home you own or rent, or if your business was damaged by Superstorm Sandy, I encourage you to apply for FEMA assistance before the January 28th deadline. You can read more about FEMA's Individual Assistance program on my website.
Here are some of the components of the Sandy aid legislation that are especially important to our area:
--$16 billion for Community Development Block Grants that can be used for community needs related to short term relief, such as the restoration of essential services, and long-term recovery.
--$11.5 billion for the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund, which provides both individual assistance to households and public assistance (or capitalize both IA and PA) to reimburse state and local governments for storm cleanup and response costs. This is important because without federal assistance, local governments would have to look to taxpayers to cover the full cost of storm response.
--$5.35 billion in funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers including $3.5 billion for repairs to projects that were under construction and damaged by Sandy; $1 billion for flood control and coastal emergencies activities to support emergency operations and repairs; $821 million for operations and maintenance funds to dredge navigation channels. The Army Corps will play a vital role in repairing damage to our shoreline from Sandy and ensuring our communities are prepared for future storms.
--$780 million for SBA disaster loans to help small businesses recover. Small businesses are the foundation of our economy, and these low-interest loans are an important lifeline to those damaged in the storm.
I look forward to updating you as the package moves toward final approval by the President and begins making a difference here on Long Island. My office is actively reaching out to local governments from Smithtown to Montauk to identify top priorities for federal funding, and I will fight for the assistance our hard-hit residents need to rebuild their lives. As always, if you need assistance I hope you will contact my office to start us working on your behalf.
Congressman Tim Bishop
First District of New York