FEMA to cover 90% of Sandy costs

Agency to reimburse city a larger percentage to help with $200 million in storm expenses


The Federal Emergency Management Agency has been given the OK to cover a larger percentage of Hurricane Sandy-related costs, and U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer said that the additional funding will ease the financial burden on Long Beach and other municipalities that are still reeling from the storm.

Under federal law, FEMA must reimburse 75 percent of the cost of repairing public property damaged in a disaster. The agency can increase the rate, however, if the money the state receives for such storm-related repairs exceeds a pre-determined amount.

On Thursday, Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announced that FEMA and the White House agreed to increase the federal government’s cost-share for repairing public property damage by Sandy from 75 percent to 90 percent.

“The cost of recovery from Sandy is still looming over residents and municipalities in New York City and Long Island, and today’s news that the feds will cover 90 percent of the cost to repair public property means hundreds of millions off of taxpayers’ backs,” Schumer said in a statement. “Sandy was a storm of national significance, and I urged FEMA and the President to act accordingly, picking up as much of the tab as possible so local taxpayers aren’t left holding the bag. There is still much more to be done, but this decision on the part of the federal government will provide incredible relief for impacted communities.”

FEMA typically covers at least 75 percent of eligible costs after a disaster, although the agency can kick in a larger percentage of reimbursement if the total the state receives exceeds $133 per resident, or $2.6 billion, at which point FEMA can recommend the President to adjust the federal costs share up to 90 percent or more.

The state surpassed that threshold on April 30, when FEMA allocated more than $267 million to the Long Island Power Authority through its public assistance program. Schumer called on FEMA at a press conference in Freeport a day later to make a request to the federal Office of Management and Budget to increase its cost-share in order to prevent local taxpayers from holding the bag.

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