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Sandy: One Year Later

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A Year After Hurricane Sandy, FEMA Individual Assistance Tops $1 Billion In New York

NEW YORK, NY -- When Hurricane Sandy made landfall a year ago on Oct. 29, the unprecedented storm surge and strong winds devastated tens of thousands of New Yorkers.

Amid widespread power outages and storm debris, New York survivors began asking where and how to begin putting their lives back together.

In anticipation of Sandy’s impact, the Federal Emergency Management Agency deployed nearly 300 people to New York in advance of the hurricane to begin coordinating assistance for survivors. Within 48 hours of Sandy’s landfall, the figure swelled to 1,200. Eventually more than 4,000 workers were part of the federal response team.

Also within 48 hours, the first FEMA grants for New York individuals and households, totaling $1.7 million, were approved to help eligible survivors with home repairs, temporary rental costs and other uninsured hurricane-related expenses.

One year later, more than $1 billion has been approved for New Yorkers through FEMA’s Individuals and Households program to help them rebuild their lives. This is part of a total of more than $8.3 billion in disaster assistance that also includes more than $1.5 billion in low-interest U.S. Small Business Administration disaster loans, more than $3.7 billion in flood insurance claim payments and more than $2.1 billion for debris removal, repair or replacement of public facilities and reimbursement for emergency expenses.

FEMA, in coordination with its local, state, federal, tribal, private sector, voluntary and faith-based partners, has been working nonstop with New York survivors to help them rebuild their lives.  During the past year, more than 117,500 individuals and households in New York’s 13 designated counties were approved for assistance.

In the months after Hurricane Sandy, FEMA dispatched nearly 1,200 community relations specialists to devastated neighborhoods to determine survivors’ individual needs, and to help them navigate the FEMA application process and access other services.

More than 500 national, state and local voluntary and faith-based organizations helped people in need. They coordinated donations, volunteer management, home repair, child care, counseling services and removal of muck and mold from homes.

FEMA opened 65 disaster recovery centers, many of them located in hard-hit areas, where survivors received face-to-face help. There were more than 183,000 visits to the centers.

With thousands of New Yorkers displaced in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, FEMA worked with the state and city of  New York to implement innovative programs to respond to the unique challenges posed by the shortage of rental housing in a densely populated, vertically built and linguistically diverse region.

Thanks to the Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power program that was coordinated by local governments and funded by FEMA, more than 21,000 families were able to remain in their storm-damaged homes while repairs were made.

In addition, FEMA temporarily housed nearly 6,000 individuals and families in hotels and motels through its Transitional Sheltering Assistance program.

To ensure everyone received information, FEMA provided materials in 26 languages.

A year after the storm, all housing inspections – more than 185,000 – have been completed. Today more than 160 New Yorkers hired by FEMA to assist in recovery operations continue to help their communities rebuild from Sandy.

As New York’s resilient recovery continues, federal departments collaborate with state, local governments, businesses and voluntary organizations

NEW YORK – In 2009, President Obama charged the U.S. departments of Homeland Security and Housing and Urban Development with bringing together a group of more than 20 federal departments, agencies and offices to develop a guide for disaster recovery organizations and to make recommendations for improving the nation’s approach to disaster recovery.

The group created the National Disaster Recovery Framework, or NDRF. The framework, a guide to effective recovery for large-scale or catastrophic disasters such as Hurricane Sandy, requires strong coordination across all levels of government, nongovernmental organizations and the private sector.

It also focuses on how states, tribes and local jurisdictions can best restore, redevelop and revitalize the health, social, economic, natural and environmental fabric of their communities after major disasters, thus building a more resilient nation.

Two of the concepts introduced by the framework are the Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator, or FDRC, and Recovery Support Functions, or RSFs. (The other two NDRF concepts are state or tribal disaster recovery coordinators and local disaster recovery managers.)

Following a major disaster, the FDRC facilitates coordination and collaboration among federal, tribal, state and local governments, the private sector, voluntary and faith-based organizations. The FDRC works with local disaster recovery managers and state and/or tribal disaster recovery coordinators.

Each of six recovery support functions addresses a core recovery area. They are: community planning and capacity building, economic, health and social services, housing, infrastructure systems, and natural and cultural resources.

Each function’s purpose is to support local governments by helping with problem solving, improving access to resources and fostering coordination among state and federal agencies, nongovernmental partners and others with a stake in the recovery. The support functions help communities accelerate recovery, redevelopment and revitalization.

Since Sandy, the FDRC and the recovery support functions have been working to help recovery workers in New York do their jobs better by connecting them with federal, state, local and nongovernmental solutions.

For example, in September, the FDRC unveiled the online interactive community resource mapping tool. The tool allows people at all levels of government, community-based and other nongovernmental organizations to identify, track, assess, coordinate and connect unmet Sandy-related needs with solutions provided by governmental and nongovernmental organizations.

The tool features nearly 2,000 data points in about 100 ZIP codes in New York, Bronx, Kings, Queens, Richmond, Nassau and Suffolk counties. It provides information on home damage, nonprofit recovery organizations and their service areas, and other recovery activities. It also can generate reports, prepare recovery analysis, support grant applications and serve as a template for recovery from future disasters. The mapping tool is updated frequently and eventually will be fully accessible.

In addition to the mapping tool, there is now a set of sea level rise maps to help communities, residents, and others consider the risks from future sea level rise as they plan for reconstruction.

The maps integrate flood hazard data from the Federal Emergency Management Agency with information on future sea level rise from two reports, one issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the other from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability.

Other federal coordinating accomplishments include the creation and weekly distribution of the electronic Disaster Recovery Bulletin, which includes Web links to information about recovery solutions.

Also, the economic and natural and cultural resources recovery support functions have hosted workshops in Kings and Suffolk counties on wetlands and for small business owners on how to compete for government contracts.

The federal coordinating work continues. In the weeks ahead, a fully accessible website will be launched that will serve as a collaborative online platform where people working toward recovery can exchange information. It will contain recovery solutions, as contributed, in many cases, by users of the site.

Long-term recovery groups aid work after Hurricane Sandy

NEW YORK – When the humanitarian organization World Vision had nowhere to store construction materials vital to rebuilding needs after Hurricane Sandy hit, it found a solution through voluntary agency liaisons and long-term recovery groups. They worked together to locate storage areas for the materials in Brooklyn and Staten Island and the construction supplies are now easier to access for organizations participating in the rebuilding effort.

The Queens Library system was severely affected by Sandy and still has closures in some locations. With the loss of books at a number of its library sites, voluntary agency liaisons were able to facilitate coordination between Barnes & Noble and the community to donate books to the library system as part of its book drive. This will not only help the Queens Library system save money on replacement of books and focus on structural repairs, but it will continue to be a resource for the educational needs of the community.    

The Federal Emergency Management Agency deploys voluntary agency liaisons to help government agencies communicate and coordinate recovery efforts when disasters strike. They also collaborate with voluntary, faith-based and community organizations.     

They connect these organizations and agencies to establish a network that can begin to assess additional needs and the next course of action for the survivor, provide an avenue for the training and guidance of disaster case managers and help construct, if they do not already exist, long-term recovery groups.

While voluntary agency liaisons operate under FEMA from the outset of disaster recovery, the long-term recovery groups focus on the needs of survivors after they have maximized state and federal funds available to them. They are independent of FEMA or any other federal agency and are a coalition of groups from national to neighborhood organizations. The coordination between the voluntary agency liaisons and the long-term recovery groups addresses potential rebuilding problems and community needs in New York.

In addition, long-term recovery groups also concentrate on resiliency measures for future storms. They offer information and support on preparation for possible disasters that will protect both lives and property.

For more information on New York’s disaster recovery, visit,, and


FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards. Recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). For TTY call 800-462-7585.


Last Updated: 
10/04/2015 - 07:05