Gov't shutdown could impact Sandy efforts

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Mandel said that many residents have asked about the impact the shutdown could have on Long Beach, but he emphasized that city services would continue. He also said that city officials were working with elected officials including Sen. Charles Schumer and Rep. Peter King, a Republican from Seaford. This week King opposed the House Republican leadership, whom many blame for the shutdown, after Democrats rebuffed Republican demands to delay implementation of the Affordable Health Care Act.

A spokesman for King could not be reached for comment.

In January, federal lawmakers approved a $51 billion emergency Hurricane Sandy aid package. It took Congress three months to pass the measure, with lawmakers from New York, including Schumer and King, calling on Congress to approve funding for devastated cities like Long Beach.

“The same hyper-partisan faction that opposed and delayed the Sandy relief funding we all need has now shut the federal government down,” Mandel said.

A spokesman for State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) said that the impasse in Washington would likely have no impact on post-Sandy disaster assistance, and that state lawmakers do not expect any delay in previously approved funding for storm-related programs.

A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said that Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Funding, administered through the state’s New York Rising Program, will not be impacted by the shutdown. In Long Beach, where approximately 20 percent of the population remains displaced, many homeowners are hoping that federal CDBG supplemental funding will offset costs that are not covered by FEMA, insurance reimbursements or Small Business Administration loans.

“There is $2 billion loaded and in our system, approved and ready for spending,” the HUD spokesman said. “People shouldn’t be worried at all.”

On Wednesday, County Legislator Dave Denenberg (D-Merrick) called on the state to release those federal funds to Sandy victims, saying that there are still residents who have yet to receive money from the NY Rising program, even though they properly submitted claims.

“In the immediate aftermath of Sandy a lot of people made a lot of promises to help our residents get back on their feet and back into their homes,” Denenberg said in a statement. “Unfortunately, almost a year later, people are still struggling to get back to any normalcy and we need to cut the red tape and get these funds flowing to the people that desperately need it.”

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