Where to Turn to After Suffering Through Hurricane Sandy

October 31, 2012 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

Hurricane Sandy (aka “Frankenstorm”) has come and gone in the Northeast and the damage left behind is unfathomable. For most of us in the D.C. area, we were spared the true wrath of the storm and had relatively little damage, albeit flooding was an issue in some places. However, New York, New Jersey and other Northeast states were hammered by the force of the superstorm, while Western Maryland and West Virginia were buried under two feet of snow in some places. Oh my!

Now the recovery from this storm begins. A check of the Federal Emergency Management Agency website has numerous pages of emergency declarations for many states, which include information on ways that the federal government can assist individuals and states. For example, FEMA’s emergency declaration for New York explains that affected individuals and families can apply for:

  • rental payments for temporary housing for those whose homes are unlivable;
  • grants for home repairs and replacement of essential household items not covered by insurance to make damaged dwellings safe, sanitary and functional;
  • grants to replace personal property and help meet medical, dental, funeral, transportation and other serious disaster-related needs not covered by insurance or other federal, state and charitable aid programs;
  • unemployment payments up to 26 weeks for workers who temporarily lost jobs because of the disaster and who do not qualify for state benefits, such as self-employed individuals;
  • low-interest loans to cover residential losses not fully compensated by insurance;
  • loans up to $2 million for small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and most private nonprofit organizations that have suffered disaster-related cash flow problems and need funds for working capital to recover from the disaster’s adverse economic impact;
  • loans up to $500,000 for farmers, ranchers and aquaculture operators to cover production and property losses, excluding primary residence; and
  • other relief programs such as crisis counseling for those traumatized by the disaster; income tax assistance for filing casualty losses; advisory assistance for legal, veterans benefits and social security matters.

Meanwhile, New York and its local governments affected can seek assistance such as:

  • payment of not less than 75 percent of the eligible costs for removing debris from public areas and for emergency measures, including direct federal assistance, taken to save lives and protect property and public health; and
  • payment of not more than 75 percent of the approved costs for hazard mitigation projects undertaken by state, tribal and local governments to prevent or reduce long-term risk to life and property from natural or technological disasters.

FEMA officials will spend the following days and weeks holding briefings to explain the application procedures for the New York government and local governments throughout the state. Approved mitigation projects are paid through the state from funding provided by FEMA and other participating federal agencies.

Other states’ emergency declarations offer similar assistance in varying degrees depending on the severity of storm damage.

Perhaps we should be thankful that such massive and destructive hurricanes are rare in the Northeast, yet when they do occur, the cost in damages can run into the billions of dollars. For a nation facing considerable debt and a potential fiscal cliff, this was the last thing we need, yet somehow we will recover. Still, storms like this only emphasize the importance of making disaster funding available, and in this case, a lot of it.

Let us know if you were affected by Hurricane Sandy and how.


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