“During Sandy, over nine million people throughout the region lost power,” Donovan said in a conference call with the media on Monday, “and we all remember the gas lines and the generators sitting idle due to lack of fuel — bringing the region and its economy to a standstill.”
In Long Beach, where the storm caused $200 million in damage, the boardwalk is being rebuilt with more durable materials, and officials are moving forward with the Army Corps of Engineers to rebuild the beachfront with storm mitigation measures. Last week the city announced a number of “resiliency measures” it is taking as it rebuilds, to address climate change.
“Over the past six months, Secretary Donovan and the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force have been tremendous partners as we work to build back better, smarter and stronger,” said City Council President Scott Mandel, who served on the task force’s Advisory Group. “Though there is still much work to do, we’ve already made extraordinary progress, including the reopening of the first part of Long Beach’s iconic boardwalk just a few weeks ago. This rebuilding strategy, which we helped inform, will help us ensure our families and small businesses are protected for generations to come.”
Getting the money out
In April, HUD allocated $1.7 billion in community development block grant funds to the NY Rising grant program, to be used for storm relief and for elevating and rebuilding homes to avoid higher flood insurance premiums, which the report said may drive homeowners out of coastal communities.
Donovan said that HUD will announce the next round of allocations through the block grant program in the coming weeks, and that the use of the funds will be influenced by the report’s recommendations. He also acknowledged residents’ frustrations with the slow pace of funding, saying, “We understand that there are families waiting, and the process can never be quick enough.”
He added that the U.S. Small Business Administration’s disaster loan program, which gave $3.8 billion in low-interest loans to storm victims, performed better than it did during Hurricane Katrina. But the report recommends further improving the process of accessing and disbursing those funds.