Sandy task force offers suggestions

Report highlights ways to improve infrastructure, reimbursement process


Ten months after Hurricane Sandy hit the region, a special task force created by President Obama released a 200-page report on Monday that outlines steps to help communities prepare for extreme weather events associated with climate change, and to improve shortcomings in a reimbursement process that has frustrated countless residents.

The Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force report makes 69 recommendations, including rebuilding infrastructure stronger to protect against future storms, and “cutting the red tape” to help families, businesses and communities more efficiently.

Sandy caused tens of billions of dollars’ worth of damage, resulted in more than 150 deaths and displaced thousands of people. Obama created the task force last December.

The report lays out a series of guidelines for the use of $50 billion in Sandy aid that Congress approved in January, and is meant to serve as a model for “communities across the nation facing greater risks from extreme weather, and to continue helping Sandy-affected communities rebuild,” said Shaun Donovan, secretary of the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development and the task force’s chairman.

“…I have seen up close just how disasters like Sandy are causing incredible pain for families across our country,” Donovan said. “These disasters have moved families beyond abstract discussions to see the reality of how our changing climate is already impacting lives and putting communities at risk.”

Officials said that most of the recommendations have already been adopted by the Obama administration, but are at different stages of implementation. They include helping disaster victims stay in their homes by allowing them to quickly make emergency repairs, and preventing homeowners from being forced out of their homes after a disaster because of short-term financial hardships by creating nationally consistent mortgage policies.

The report also recommends making the electrical grid “smarter and more flexible,” developing a power strategy for telephone and Internet communication systems and equipment and protecting the fuel supply chain.

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