More than $251 million in Individual Assistance Approved for Disaster Survivors
WASHINGTON - At the direction of President Barack Obama, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) continues to lead the federal government's effort to provide assistance and support to states affected by Hurricane Sandy, ensuring the federal family and its public and private partners continue to provide all available resources to support state, local, and tribal communities in affected areas. Today, President Obama convened a call with FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, Chief of Staff Jack Lew, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security John Brennan, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, and other senior members of his team to receive an update on federal efforts to support ongoing response and recovery efforts. Secretary Napolitano also traveled today to Nassau County, N.Y., to meet with state and local officials and view ongoing response and recovery efforts to Hurricane Sandy. Secretary Napolitano was joined by U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, U.S. Representatives Peter King and Steve Israel, and other state and local officials to tour South Seaford and the Nassau County Command Center.
During the call, the President expressed his concern for people in the region who are vulnerable to the harsh weather conditions in the upcoming forecast and reiterated his direction to continue to provide every available resource to support state, tribal, and local and partners, including efforts to confront fuel challenges facing communities and ongoing power restoration efforts, as well as any support that can be provided ahead of the potential severe weather.
The President and his team also discussed the support FEMA, HUD, and other federal partners are providing to the Governors in their effort to find long-term housing solutions for survivors whose homes have been damaged. FEMA has established a Housing Portal to assist individuals and families, who have been displaced by a disaster, find a place to live. The portal consolidates rental resources identified and provided by federal agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Veterans Administration (VA), private organizations, and the public, to help individuals and families find available rental units in their area. The housing portal is available at www.fema.gov/housingportal. FEMA is using geospatial imagery of the hardest areas, inaccessible to housing inspectors, to expedite financial assistance to qualifying registered survivors with two months of rental assistance. FEMA will automatically grant rental assistance instead of waiting for inspectors to make inaccessible determinations so survivors can seek temporary housing and inspectors can focus their attention on other disaster survivors until access can be gained to the inaccessible dwellings.
FEMA has also activated, at the request of the states, its Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program for New Jersey and New York. This program allows eligible survivors who cannot return to their homes due to damages caused by Hurricane Sandy to stay in participating hotels or motels until more suitable housing accommodations are available.
"More and more survivors are signing up for disaster assistance at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362)," said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. "FEMA is part of a big team on the response and recovery to Sandy, and we continue to closely coordinate with our partners in and outside of government."
States and non-governmental organizations like the Southern Baptist Convention, the Salvation Army, and the American Red Cross continue to provide services to Hurricane Sandy survivors. For example the Southern Baptist Convention deployed 55 field kitchens to affected states with a capacity of 615,000 meals per day in support of the American Red Cross. Additional resources deployed include childcare teams, shower units, laundry units, cleanup/muck-out teams, chainsaw crews, and emotional & spiritual care teams. The Salvation Army has also provided 213 feeding units with the capacity of 318,300 meals per day in support of the American Red Cross. The American Red Cross has mobilized 1,700 disaster workers from all over the county who have served more than 25,000 meals and snacks. The American Red Cross has also activated 167 response vehicles and staged more than 230,000 ready-to-eat meals. These three organizations, in coordination with many others, are working tirelessly to continue meeting the needs of the survivors.
"National VOAD member organizations and their volunteers continue to work closely with FEMA and affected state and local authorities to help communities with their Hurricane Sandy relief and recovery needs by providing shelter and mobile feeding in areas where there are power outages, and assisting with debris removal, emergency clean up and temporary repairs," said Daniel Stoecker, Executive Director of National Voluntary Organizations Active in Distasters. "If you are looking for the best way to assist in relief efforts, please visit our website www.nvoad.org/sandy ."
FEMA and its federal partners, through our National Response Coordination Center in Washington, continue to closely monitor the developing weather conditions and remain in close contact with state emergency management partners in potentially affected states along the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast to ensure coordination for any emergency response. FEMA is urging residents in potentially-affected areas to monitor local radio and television news outlets or listen to NOAA Weather Radio for the latest developments. Information about local forecasts is available from the National Weather Service at www.weather.gov or by phone at mobile.weather.gov.
As cold weather temperatures threaten areas impacted by the Hurricane Sandy, the risk of fires increases with the use of supplemental heating, such as space heaters and any fuel-burning appliances in the home, including furnaces and fireplaces and are a potential carbon monoxide source. Never use a generator inside a home, basement, shed or garage even if doors and windows are open. Keep generators outside and far away from windows, doors and vents. Read both the label on your generator and the owner's manual and follow the instructions. If possible, avoid using candles and don't use your stove for heating. For other heating sources like a wood burning stove, space heater or fire place, establish a 3 foot safety zone around all heat sources. For further information regarding these safety tips or other post hurricane and winter safety recommendations, visit www.fema.gov or www.ready.gov.
In response to Hurricane Sandy, as of 3 p.m., more than 277,700 individuals in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey have registered for assistance, and more than $251 million has been approved in FEMA Assistance. Disaster Recovery Centers continue to open in the hardest hit areas. Fifteen Disaster Recovery Centers are open in New York, seven in New Jersey and seven in Connecticut and more continue to open. Additional disaster recovery centers are being planned. Specialists from the state, FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) are on hand to answer questions and provide information on the types of assistance available to survivors. To find a disaster recovery center location, check out the disaster recovery center locator at FEMA.gov/disaster-recovery-centers or by mobile phone at m.fema.gov.
The first step to receiving assistance is registering with FEMA. Individuals and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties in Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York can apply for assistance by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Disaster assistance applicants who have a speech disability or hearing loss and use TTY, should call 1-800-462-7585 directly; for those who use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 1-800-621-3362. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week until further notice. Those in affected areas with access to the internet may register by web enabled mobile device at m.fema.gov, or online at www.disasterassistance.gov. FEMA is asking that those with ability to register online do so to keep phone lines open for those without connectivity and to share this information with friends and neighbors.
Today, the President was updated on FEMA efforts to provide any additional necessary resources for potentially impacted communities, including bottled water, meals, blankets and other commodities. At all times, FEMA maintains commodities, including millions of liters of water, millions of meals and hundreds of thousands of blankets strategically located at distribution centers throughout the United States and its territories, if needed and requested. In advance of Hurricane Sandy, FEMA and the Department of Defense established Incident Support Bases (ISBs) in Westover, Mass. and Lakehurst, New Jersey to pre-position supplies including water, meals, blankets and other resources closer to impacted areas.
In support of New York and New Jersey, FEMA has transferred resources such as food, water, and fuel to the states to distribute to individuals at Points of Distribution (POD) sites. POD's are centralized points where supplies are delivered and the public travels to the site to pick up commodities following a disaster or emergency. The state, in coordination with local governments, identifies the location of the PODs which are currently operating in hard-hit disaster areas. Individuals should contact their local emergency management office for more information. Local officials are sharing information and available resources on public websites. Publicly available links, maintained by state and local governments, for areas affected by Sandy include: //www.nyc.gov/html/index.html; www.nyc.gov/html/misc/html/2012/foodandwater.html; //nj211.org/hurricane.cfm; //statenislandusa.com/; //www.governor.ct.gov and //www.governor.wv.gov/Pages/StormUpdate.aspx.
More than 5,100 FEMA personnel have been deployed to support response operations, including search and rescue, situational awareness, communications and logistical support in states affected by the storm. Community relations teams are on the ground in the hardest hit areas going door-to-door to inform disaster survivors about available services and resources and to gather situational awareness. FEMA continues to coordinate with the federal family to deploy and mobilize hundreds of staff from various federal agencies to support community relations and operational activities. More than 1,800 housing inspectors are on the ground, meeting with disaster survivors to identify damages to homes, to further expedite assistance to individuals.
To date, the President has declared that major disasters exist in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island and emergency declarations have been made in Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia and West Virginia.
Federal and state personnel are on the ground to conduct joint preliminary damage assessments in several states. These assessments are designed to give the governor of each state a better picture of damages, and to determine if a request for further federal support is needed. Other assessments may be scheduled as needed and requested.
In addition, the following federal activities are also being coordinated:
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that power and water services have been restored to more than 130,000 rural customers on USDA-financed systems in nine states affected by Hurricane Sandy. Twelve USDA-funded rural electric systems in nine states reported yesterday that power has been restored to all but 38 customers. At the height of the storm, 130,720 customers in Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont and West Virginia had lost power. USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) SNAP staff are continuously monitoring SNAP (formerly Food Stamp) transactions in all disaster affected States. In New York right after Hurricane Sandy hit, only about 50 percent of the SNAP retailers were able to transact SNAP purchases. Over the weekend that number had risen to 70 percent for Staten Island, 76 percent in New York City and 86 percent in the Bronx. USDA is expecting that trend to continue to move upwards. All SNAP retailers have the ability to process SNAP transactions using a manual voucher.
The U.S. Small Business Administration's (SBA) electronic loan application (ELA) is the way for homeowners, renters and businesses to apply for a disaster loan for Hurricane Sandy damages in New Jersey and New York. The ELA provides a convenient alternative to visiting a Disaster Recovery Center or mailing in a paper loan application. The online program checks for errors, prompts for more information when needed and provides a quicker decision than the hand-written applications. Visit https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela to apply online. Also, SBA has two Business Recovery Centers (one in Manahawkin, NJ, and one in Brooklyn, NY) which provides one-on-one help to business owners seeking disaster assistance for losses caused by Hurricane Sandy that began on Oct. 26. Also, the SBA has opened a Business Recovery Center in Brooklyn, NY for business owners seeking disaster assistance for losses caused by Hurricane Sandy that began on Oct. 27.
The Department of Defense (DoD) remains fully engaged in the ongoing federal disaster response efforts underway in eastern and northeastern United States as a result of Hurricane Sandy. In the context of our current support activities the department is focusing on providing unique capabilities to support civilian efforts to restore power to vital facilities and to assist with the resumption of mass transit services in the New York and New Jersey area.
The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) has 951 national service members that have been deployed to seven states, with more than 850 more on standby for assignments. These duties include assisting with shelter operations, call centers, debris removal, and mass care in Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia. Members include AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and 445 members of FEMA Corps, an innovative partnership between FEMA and AmeriCorps.
The Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has more than 600 personnel supporting Hurricane Sandy response operations. Priority missions include: unwatering, temporary emergency power, restoration of ports, and debris cleanup. At the Hoboken Terminal, USACE is working with city officials to increase the passenger capacity. USACE is moving two large generators to the site to support operations, both are expected to be on site today. Currently pumping at: Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, World Trade Center, Montague Tunnel, Passaic Valley Waste Water Treatment Plant, Jersey City PATH Train Tunnel, 14th Street Tunnel, and Rockaway Waste Water Treatment Plan. USACE has 176 additional pumps with varying capacities staged or available via contractor staged and ready for deployment as needed. USACE has installed 67 generators with another 30 installations in progress. Another 97 installations are projected over the next 24 hours. Special emphasis has been focused on 26 sites in Hoboken to include providing power to twelve high rise apartments. USACE has one generator on site, one en route and one being prepared for movement from the incident support bases. This effort will continue until commercial power has been restored.
The National Guard continues significant response and recovery efforts throughout the impacted region. Currently, more than 7600 National Guard personnel are assisting in response and recovery efforts across region affected by Sandy. The New York National Guard (NYNG) is supporting power restoration, traffic control, debris removal, wellness checks, and food/water distribution throughout New York City. The NYNG is the designated water and petroleum distribution agent for all supported state agencies. There are five military police companies conducting presence patrols, traffic control points, and augmentation of local law enforcement agencies. More than 800 NYNG personnel 200 vehicles expected to arrive at Floyd Bennett Field, N.Y., today. Using transportation companies to move generators to gas stations without power, followed by federal and local contractors performing generator installation and maintenance. The New Jersey National Guard (NJNG) is assisting New Jersey State Police and Fire Department with rescues, security, and evacuations. They are also conducting debris clearance/removal, high water vehicle operations, shelter support, food and water and fuel distribution, and power generation. NJNG is still conducting aerial support missions including FEMA damage assessments. The Pennsylvania National Guard is supporting Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency with sheltering, food/water distribution, and power generation, as well as providing assistance to New York. Connecticut National Guard personnel are conducting route clearance, high wheel transport, aviation, power generation, staging area support and security missions as part of recovery efforts. West Virginia National Guard (WVNG) personnel are conducting community assessments, medical evacuation, and debris removal. WVNG deployed aviation assets to assist with route reconnaissance and support response and recovery efforts.
The U.S. Coast Guard's Pollution Response Unified Command is responding to numerous areas throughout New York and New Jersey with environmental threats caused by Hurricane Sandy. Responders with the unified command are assessing affected areas and environmentally sensitive areas for pollution and hazardous materials. The assessments will be used to appropriately respond to the identified areas of pollution. The unified command has created branches, divisions and task forces to safely and efficiently respond to these impacted areas.
In response to requests from states, Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) has delivered more than 253,000 gallons of gasoline and more than 157,000 gallons of diesel fuel to FEMA Incident Support Bases and staging areas within New York and New Jersey, and more deliveries continue to supplement inventories. This fuel is being made available to state emergency coordinators, who direct assets to locations determined by each state. Also, more than two million meals, from DLA, have been delivered to FEMA staging areas in West Virginia, New York and New Jersey to be made available for distribution to states.
The U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Occupational Safety and Health Administration is urging workers and members of the public engaged in Hurricane Sandy cleanup and recovery efforts in to be aware of the hazards they might encounter and the steps they should take to protect themselves. OSHA field staff members are providing safety assistance, technical support, and information and training to those involved in the recovery efforts. For more information about unsafe work situations, workers and the general public can contact OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742). For more information about protecting workers during Hurricane Sandy recovery, visit //www.osha.gov/sandy/index.html. This comprehensive website offers fact sheets, concise "quick cards," frequently asked questions, safety and health guides, and additional information in English and Spanish. Also, DOL has announced that National Emergency Grant funds will be awarded to both New Jersey and New York to assist with cleanup and recovery efforts. More than $15.5 million will be available to the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development to assist with the restoration of public lands and infrastructure while also providing temporary work to those in need of employment. More than $27.7 million will be available to the New York Department of Labor to assist with the restoration of public lands and infrastructure.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has exercised its authority under the Clean Air Act to temporarily waive federal clean diesel fuel requirements in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and in and around New York City to allow the use of home heating oil in highway vehicles, nonroad vehicles, and non-road equipment designated by the States of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York for emergency response. These waivers were granted by EPA in coordination with the Department of Energy (DOE). The federal waivers will help ensure an adequate supply of fuel for emergency response in the impacted areas of New Jersey, New York City, and Pennsylvania.
The U.S. Department of Transportation's (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today announced it is leading an Interstate Petroleum Transport Team to ensure the fastest and most efficient movement of fuel to the region devastated by Hurricane Sandy. The team will serve as a single point of contact for states, the trucking industry, and other agencies to assist in the removal of barriers to the quick delivery of fuel. Since many of the necessary legal authorities reside at the state level, such as restrictions on truck size and weight and the authority to travel across state lines, the team will help coordinate state level activities within the region. The team has already launched a hotline number to help address any individual registration, certification, tax, or other barriers to the flow of fuel transportation to affected states. Also, DOT has made $12 million in quick release emergency relief funds immediately available to New Jersey and Connecticut to help begin repairing the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, while assessments continue throughout the Northeast to determine the full extent of the damage. The funds - $10 million for New Jersey and $2 million for Connecticut - mark another installment of federal-aid highway funds going toward repairing damage from Hurricane Sandy. Last week, DOT approved $17 million in quick release emergency relief funds - $10 million for New York; $3 million for Rhode Island; and $4 million for North Carolina.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has more than 1,000 HHS personnel are deployed to provide public health and medical assistance to New York and New Jersey in Hurricane Sandy response and recovery efforts. 15 Disaster Medical Assistance Teams from the National Disaster Medical System with caches of medical supplies and two teams of U.S. Public Health Service commissioned corps officers are deployed to New York and New Jersey to provide care in medical shelters and augment hospital staff the states' and city's request. At the request of the State of New Jersey, HHS established a Federal Medical Station to serve as a medical shelter in Middlesex, New Jersey. This Federal Medical Station (FMS) was one of seven deployed from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the area to be available if needed in New Jersey or New York. Medical personnel from the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and the National Disaster Medical System are providing medical care for residents at the FMS. In addition, a team of specialists from the Administration for Children and Families is supporting child care and Head Start recovery efforts in New York and New Jersey. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration personnel are assisting the states of New York and New Jersey in assessing FDA-regulated industries. Following the Secretary's declarations of public health emergencies in New York and New Jersey, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services continues to approve waivers under 1135 of the Social Security Act for healthcare providers in New York and New Jersey. Four liaisons and 350 ambulances remain deployed to New York, made available through the FEMA national ambulance contract. Two HHS teams of mental health experts are integrated with the HHS medical teams and available to support community mental health needs. An HHS Incident Response Coordination Team in New York and New Jersey continues to provide command-and-control to HHS teams requested in that state. ASPR Regional Emergency Coordinators and liaisons from the Administration for Children and Families remain deployed to the Regional Response Coordination Centers. Regional Emergency Coordinators also are serving as liaisons for FEMA incident management assistance teams.
The Department of Energy (DOE) has loaned the Department of Defense ultra-low sulfur diesel from the Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve. The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) will begin drawing down stocks from the heating oil reserve terminal in Groton, Connecticut. The fuel, which will be distributed to state, local and federal responders in the New Jersey York and New York area, will be used to provide additional supplies to ensure continued response and recovery efforts. This includes fuel for emergency equipment and buildings, including electrical generators, water pumps, GSA buildings, trucks and other vehicles. Also, DOE continues to work closely with FEMA, and in support of state, tribal, and local officials as the electric industry engages in power restoration efforts. Daily Situation Reports that detail the storm's impacts and the restoration activities being taken by the energy sector are available at www.doe.gov.
The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will waive low-income housing tax credit rules that prohibit owners of low-income housing from providing housing to survivors of Hurricane Sandy who do not qualify as low-income. The action will expand the availability of housing for disaster victims and their families. Also, in response to shortages of clear diesel fuel caused by Hurricane Sandy, the IRS will not impose a tax penalty when dyed diesel fuel is sold for use or used on the highway. This relief applies beginning Oct. 30, 2012 in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania and will remain in effect through Nov. 20, 2012. Recently IRS announced it is granting taxpayers and tax preparers affected by Hurricane Sandy until Nov. 7 to file returns and accompanying payments normally due on October 31.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is coordinating with FEMA and affected states to identify housing providers who may have available housing units, including public housing agencies and multi-family owners. HUD is also speeding federal disaster assistance to Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island to provide support to homeowners and low-income renters forced from their homes in the most heavily impacted areas. The President's major disaster declarations for Connecticut, New York and New Jersey allow HUD to offer foreclosure relief and other assistance to some families in the designated counties. This week, HUD also announced it will speed federal disaster assistance to the State of New Jersey, State of New York and State of Connecticut and provide support to homeowners and low-income renters forced from their homes due to Hurricane Sandy.
U. S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel are on site today processing 161 expected international flights with approximately 31,500 passengers at JFK and 92 expected international flights with approximately 14,500 passengers at Newark International Airport. To facilitate the flow of goods into the New York area, CBP officers conducted cargo container inspections this morning at the Port of New York/Newark for the first time since Hurricane Sandy battered the New York/New Jersey area.
Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan encouraged colleges, universities and scholarship programs across the country to consider extending their early November application deadlines to accommodate students who were impacted by Hurricane Sandy and who may be experiencing unexpected hardships.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), due to the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy and pursuant to FCC authority, waived rules for good cause and to alleviate any additional burden that may be caused by our filing requirements and regulatory deadlines, we hereby extend certain deadlines occurring between October 27, 2012 and November 2, 2012, until November 5, 2012 for all Wireless Radio Service licensees and applicants.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), in a continuing effort to provide assistance to individuals and entities attempting to comply with filing and other obligations under the federal securities laws in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the SEC announced it is preparing relief measures that would extend filing deadlines for those affected by Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath. SEC staff are preparing relief measures that are expected to include extensions of filing deadlines for any filing due during the period from October 29, 2012 to November 20, 2012 for publicly traded companies, investment companies, investment advisers, other persons with filing obligations, accountants, brokerage firms, and transfer agents, among others.
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.
Follow FEMA online at www.fema.gov/blog, www.facebook.com/fema, and www.youtube.com/fema. Also, follow Administrator Craig Fugate's activities at www.twitter.com/craigatfema. The social media links are provided for reference only. FEMA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications.