Eastern Long Island and the other regions affected by Superstorm Sandy moved forward on the road to recovery this week with final passage of approximately $50.5 billion in federal funding to rebuild homes and businesses, restore battered shorelines and critical infrastructure, and harden the region's defenses against future storms.
Over 90 days since the storm was too long to wait, but my office has been working with officials at all levels of government since Sandy struck to ensure we are prepared to compete for aid to rebuild our communities. The bipartisan legislation signed into law this week includes funding for both short-term emergency needs and long-term mitigation work to limit the destructive power of future storms including:
$16 billion for Department of Housing and Urban Development community development programs; $11.5 billion for Federal Emergency Management Agency's Disaster Relief Fund; $10.9 billion for transit systems; and $5.4 billion for the US Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE).
The ACOE will play a leading role in rebuilding Long Island's damaged coastline. The legislation stipulates that the Army Corps can only perform storm-related work in areas where the agency has already undertaken construction work or studies, such as the 83-mile long seashore included in the Fire Island to Montauk Point Reformulation Study. Ongoing Army Corps projects in Lake Montauk Harbor and Mattituck are also eligible for funding under the terms of the relief package.
FEMA's disaster relief fund will provide individual grant assistance to households that were damaged in the storm as well as finance low-interest loans for small businesses. FEMA will also reimburse state, county, and local government and certain nonprofit groups for 75% of their costs in responding to the storm. Local government and community development agencies will also be able to compete for approximately $16 billion in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding, which could fund projects to raise homes in floodplains or purchase frequently-flooded homes and convert them to open space for public recreation.
My job is to bring federal resources to the table to solve the problems identified by local government. With the President's approval, federal agencies are now beginning the process of distributing this critical aid either directly to our communities or via New York State. Please be assured that I will continue fighting for the level of support we deserve in the wake of this devastating storm.
Congressman Tim Bishop
First District of New York