A Republican and a Democrat standing together these days is rare. Even though we’re from different political parties, partisan politics could not have been further from our minds last Oct. 29, and in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
It was immediately clear that this wasn’t just another storm, and that the challenges it created for our residents and businesses — and for the entire region — were enormous. That’s why President Obama established the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, chaired by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan.
Last week, the task force released its rebuilding strategy to help guide federal investment in the region, marking an important new chapter in the region’s rebuilding effort.
Our work with the task force and Governor Cuomo has yielded unmatched results: We worked to secure up to $1.3 billion for Long Islanders in the first round of Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funding, the bulk of which will assist homeowners and small businesses in their rebuilding efforts. We know that every day waiting for aid is a day too long, and that relief never comes fast enough. The rebuilding strategy addresses some necessary changes to cut the federal red tape and get the assistance into the hands of our still-struggling homeowners and small businesses, and we commend Secretary Donovan for leading this effort.
As members of the task force’s Advisory Group, we are confident that the policy recommendations presented in the rebuilding strategy will serve Long Islanders well. Throughout the entire process, the task force has recognized that rebuilding must be a locally driven effort. The task force engaged nearly 450 stakeholders to inform the rebuilding strategy’s more than 65 recommendations, which will help people to protect their homes, small businesses to get back on their feet and communities to harden vital infrastructure systems.