After months of political wrangling and desperate calls from city and state officials to release much-needed federal aid, Congress passed a $50.5 billion Hurricane Sandy aid package on Monday, a bill that was signed by President Obama.
It took Congress three months to pass the emergency measure, with lawmakers from New York, including Sen. Charles Schumer and Rep. Peter King, calling on Congress to approve funding for devastated cities like Long Beach.
In early January, Obama signed a $9.7 billion bill to replenish the National Flood Insurance Program, which has received more than 100,000 flood insurance claims from businesses and homeowners.
Before the vote on Monday, Schumer led a rally in front of the Island Park Laundromat — one of many area businesses that was damaged during the storm and is in need of federal assistance — calling for the bill’s passage. Schumer, who was joined by storm victims and local officials, including Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and former Sen. Alfonse D’Amato, said that the funding would help homeowners, small businesses and local municipalities rebuild.
“We are very, very happy that the bill passed,” Long Beach City Manager Jack Schnirman said at Tuesday’s West End Neighbors Association meeting. “We will have some money flowing to help our recovery — money not only for the city to rebuild our facilities, our beach, our boardwalk, repair our bayfront and fix our water and sewer plants … and all those parks and facilities throughout the city that took a huge hit. But secondly, we want to see that money go directly to homeowners, to elevate homes and do all the things we all need to do to get back in our homes.”
In December, the city received a $24 million Public Assistance Grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to reimburse it for the cost of debris removal.
The storm caused approximately $200 million in damage in Long Beach, Schnirman said, explaining that the city is fighting to receive the maximum reimbursement and citing its need for help with storm-mitigation efforts. City officials did not say when they expect to receive the funding, but they expect it to cover most, if not all, of the costs associated with the storm.