Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today announced that the Department is releasing $475.25 million in emergency Hurricane Sandy disaster relief appropriations to 234 projects that will repair and rebuild parks, refuges and other Interior assets damaged by the storm. The funding will also provide investments in scientific data and studies to support recovery in the region, as well as historic preservation efforts. The strategic plan and a list of the approved projects are available here.
"The funding we are making available today will help repair and rebuild facilities, reopen roads, and restore services in order to get our parks, refuges, beaches, and public lands fully operational and open to the public this summer," said Jewell. "We will continue to focus our efforts on rebuilding to welcome visitors, help jumpstart local economies, and make communities stronger and more resilient to help withstand potential damage from future storms."
From facilitating energy development to managing America's public lands for tourism and outdoor recreation to assisting Indian tribes with education and economic growth, the activities of the Department of the Interior contributed $385 billion to the U.S. economy and supported more than 2 million jobs in 2011. Interior activities helped support 31,310 jobs in New York and 14,406 jobs in New Jersey. Secretary Jewell stressed the importance of reopening areas damaged by the storm as quickly as possible to create jobs and foster economic opportunities.
"We will continue to work closely with the states and members of Congress to design effective programs and to ensure that all funds are used to help get communities back on their feet," said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis, who is Interior's designated representative to the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force.
Overall, Interior received $829.2 million in the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013, which was reduced by $42.5 million to $786.7 million due to sequestration. With the funding being released today, approximately 60 percent of Interior's Hurricane Sandy supplemental funding has been allocated. The remaining funding will be allocated in the coming months for mitigation projects that increase coastal resiliency and capacity to withstand future storm damage and to restore and rebuild public assets.
The emergency funding allocations announced today include:
The National Park Service (NPS) will allocate $329.8 million for 158 projects to rebuild, repair and restore parks facilities, lands and replace equipment. The allocation includes funds that will be used for repairs, to restore utilities, and open the Statue of Liberty in New York in time for Independence Day. About 3.7 million people visited the statue in 2011, generating $174 million in economic activity and supporting 2,218 jobs. An additional $47.5 million will be made available for historic preservation efforts through grants to State and Tribal Historic Preservation Offices.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) will allocate $64.6 million for 55 projects to repair and restore refuges, hatcheries, and other facilities and to restore wildlife habitat. Hurricane Sandy left behind a 22-mile debris field in the marshes and wetlands along the coastal boundary of Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey. These fragile areas will be cleared of trash, hazardous materials and contaminants to restore clean water and healthy wildlife habitats.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) will allocate $18.8 million for scientific monitoring, mapping, modeling, and forecasts to support broader recovery efforts throughout the impacted region. USGS scientific work will assist Interior's efforts to restore Federal lands and facilities and will assist States, cities and communities to recover and rebuild in a more resilient manner. USGS will identify coastal areas vulnerable to storm damage and provide communities with critical information needed for recovery that will also help prepare for future storm events.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), as the agency responsible for managing sand and gravel resources on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), will use $11.7 million to address critical needs for OCS sand and gravel throughout the coastal areas undergoing recovery and rebuilding. BOEM will identify and evaluate OCS sand and gravel resources, and work with other Federal agencies, States, cities, and others to facilitate coastal restoration.
The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) will allocate $2.85 million to make repairs to the Ohmsett oil spill research facility in Leonardo, New Jersey. The Ohmsett facility provides independent and objective performance testing of oil spill response equipment and marine renewable energy systems, and helps improve technologies through research and development.
Interior is working closely with the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, led by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, and has imposed strong internal controls and accountability measures in concert with the Department of the Interior's Inspector General to ensure that all funds are used as intended.
As Hurricane Sandy left a wake of destruction across the Mid-Atlantic States and New England, the Department of the Interior mobilized resources to speed storm recovery on Federal and tribal lands in the impacted region and to support the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in its efforts to assist States and local governments in the disaster area. At the peak, over 1,500 Interior employees were supporting response and recovery missions for Hurricane Sandy, through deployments and disaster recovery work in their home locations.