More than $455 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. The Administration's top priority remains supporting states, tribes and communities, as response efforts continue. Today, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano traveled to Staten Island, N.Y. to meet with state and local officials and view ongoing response and recovery efforts to Hurricane Sandy. Secretary Napolitano also toured the Father Capodanno Disaster Recovery Center.
As FEMA and its partners continue an aggressive power restoration effort, the President has approved an extension to the 100 percent cost share for emergency work performed by state, tribal and local governments through November 14, 2012. The 100 percent funding was set originally to last ten days, starting October 31 and specifically applies to work executed to restore emergency power and emergency public transportation assistance, including direct federal assistance for New Jersey, New York and Connecticut counties designated for FEMA Public Assistance. Other forms of Category B (emergency work) public assistance remain at a 75 percent cost share.
"More than $455 million has already been approved for individuals to assist with housing and other disaster-related needs," said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. "Impacted residents and business owners in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York should apply for assistance today."
The first step to receive housing and other assistance is by registering for disaster assistance. Individuals and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut can apply for assistance online at www.disasterassistance.gov, by web enabled mobile device at m.fema.gov or 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 are operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week until further notice. .
FEMA is one part of a large team that is working together to support the states in meeting the housing needs of disaster survivors. This joint effort is comprised of housing and technical experts from the states, FEMA, Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Army Corps of Engineers, Small Business Administration (SBA), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), and voluntary agencies. The affected states are taking the lead to identify their local needs and resources by convening State-led Disaster Housing Task Forces. The State-led Disaster Housing Task Forces in New Jersey and New York involve a collaborative approach to addressing the temporary housing and long-term needs of the disaster survivors, including the collection of available rental resources, projecting housing needs and exploring other options.
Working together, housing priorities are being established and the team is working to ensure they are making the greatest use of existing housing resources (such as apartments and rental units), enlisting voluntary agencies to make minor repairs so survivors can remain in their homes, and investigating other temporary housing options suitable for the area.
In support of these state-led efforts, FEMA has several temporary housing assistance options that can help to ensure survivors have access to safe, secure housing in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The types of housing assistance used will depend on the needs of each individual community.
As of 3 p.m., more than 369,000 individuals in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut have registered for assistance, and more than $455 million has been approved in FEMA housing and other needs assistance. Currently, a total of 55 Disaster Recovery Centers are open in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. Of that amount, 26 Disaster Recovery Centers are open in New York, 22 in New Jersey and seven in Connecticut and more continue to open. 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. You may also text DRC and a Zip Code to 43362 (4FEMA).
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. This initiative is intended to provide short-term lodging for eligible disaster survivors whose communities are either uninhabitable or inaccessible due to disaster-related damages.
FEMA has also authorized funds to increase the existing rental assistance in New York and New Jersey to exceed current FY2013 Fair Market Rent (FMR) levels to 125 percent. Immediately after the recent disasters, FEMA evaluated the number of available rental resources within Metropolitan New York and Northern New Jersey that might be available to house disaster survivors. After a disaster the sudden reduction of available housing supply can cause the cost of remaining housing units in the area to rise above the pre-existing FMR. It was quickly apparent that the cost of available rental units could become a limiting factor and the additional 25 percent increase is expected to make more than 1,800 rental resources available for temporary housing of disaster-impacted families in New York, and an additional 1,200 rental resources available for similar families in New Jersey. The increase to rental assistance will be implemented during recertification for a continued need for temporary housing assistance.
If a home cannot be repaired easily to safe and sanitary conditions, then local rental resources are the preferred first choice for housing disaster survivors as they recover. As a resource, FEMA has established a Housing Portal to assist individuals and families, who have been displaced by a disaster, find a place to live. By moving individuals and families into local rental units quickly, it allows them to move forward with their personal recovery with the least amount of disruption. The portal consolidates rental resources identified and provided by federal agencies and is available at www.fema.gov/housingportal.
More than 7,200 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 who have mobilized hundreds of staff from various federal agencies to support community relations and operational activities. More than 2,000 housing inspectors are on the ground, meeting with disaster survivors to identify damages to homes, to further expedite assistance to individuals; and more than 80,000 damage inspections have already been completed in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.
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. FEMA continues to deliver commodities including food, water, blankets, fuel, generators and others resources to distribution points across the region impacted by Sandy.
In addition, a snapshot of some of the federal activities that are being coordinated:
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), as of November 10, has issued 248,094 disaster loan applications to residents and businesses in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. That includes 196,822 home disaster loan applications, and 51,272 business disaster loan applications. SBA continues to operate Business Recovery Centers in New York and New Jersey. For more information, call the SBA Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing) or go to www.sba.gov. The SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans to small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture, and most private non-profit organizations, to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any physical property damage.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has more than 1,100 HHS personnel deployed to provide public health and medical assistance to New York and New Jersey. These personnel include disaster medical assistance teams (DMATs). DMATs are a group of professional medical personnel organized to provide rapid-response medical care. To read more about DMAT teams active in the Hurricane Sandy response visit: www.phe.gov/asprblog. At the request of the State of New Jersey, a Federal Medical Station continues to serve as a medical shelter at Middlesex Community College in Edison, New Jersey. At the request of the state of New York, equipment from a Federal Medical Station is also in use in a New York City hospital. The U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps also continues to support shelter operations. Nearly 60 officers from three Mental Health Teams have assisted approximately 700 residents and first responders a day, helping address basic mental health issues and facilitating environmental interventions in shelters such as ensuring that lights were off or low in a shelter at a sufficient time for people to sleep and arranging structured activities for children and adults. These types of activities help increase people's resilience in difficult circumstances. In addition, residents can connect with local crisis counselors through the National Disaster Distress Helpline. This toll-free, multilingual, crisis support service is available 24/7 via telephone (1-800-985-5990) and SMS (text ‘TalkWithUs’ to 66746).
The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced special relief intended to support leave-based donation programs to aid survivors who have suffered from the extraordinary destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy. Under these programs, employees may donate their vacation, sick or personal leave in exchange for employer cash payments made to qualified tax-exempt organizations providing relief for the survivors of Hurricane Sandy. Also, the Treasury Department and the IRS announced an expedited review and approval process will be offered for organizations seeking tax-exempt status in order to provide relief for victims of Hurricane Sandy. The IRS continues to encourage people to use existing organizations currently working on immediate aid efforts.
The Department of Energy (DOE) in response to a request from the State of Connecticut, the will be loaning an additional 4.2 million gallons of ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel from the Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve to the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), to provide emergency loans to fuel distributors in Connecticut to address fuel shortages in the state. This is a continuation of the agreement announced a week ago when President Obama declared that Hurricane Sandy has created a severe energy supply interruption. The fuel will then be provided to fuel distributors in the state and will be repaid in the next 30 days by the distributors directly. DOE and DLA stand ready to make available additional fuel as needed.
The Department of Defense (DoD) is a fully integrated partner in the federal, state, tribal, and local response to Hurricane Sandy and the northeaster that swept through the mid-Atlantic and northeastern United States.
U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) has nearly 4,000 personnel supporting Hurricane Sandy relief operations in the affected area.
Air Force teams completed unwatering (removing water) operations at Rockaway Waste Water Treatment facility, and East School in Long Beach, N.Y., and provided teams to support fire departments conducting unwatering operations in Breezy Point, N.Y. Army divers repaired the pier system at Caven Point, N.J. Navy dive detachments continue to support the World Trade Center site and Marine pump teams are assisting pumping operations at Breezy Point. Helicopters from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit are transporting and re-locating generators in affected areas to support critical infrastructure. Navy Seabees and Marine personnel restored the beach at Coast Guard Station Sandy Hook and continue supporting debris clearance operations at locations in Bayonne, N.J. and the Battery, N.Y.
The Defense Logistics Agency continues to supply FEMA with much needed emergency supplies, medical equipment, fuel and now cold and wet weather clothing to help those working toward recovery after Hurricane Sandy. DLA has delivered more than 1.8 million gallons of fuel to federal government distribution points in the New York/New Jersey region. DLA delivered nine generators to the Army Corps of Engineers to power apartment buildings in New York City. They also provided seven additional generators to the New York City Housing Authority. DLA has contracts in place to support waste water clean-up, hazardous material removal, and debris removal operations. DLA has also awarded two contracts for 330 roll-off dumpsters and 34 trucks for overland trash hauling. 2.5 million pounds of debris have been removed in the last 48 hours.
The Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has more than 3,000 employees from the North Atlantic Division with an additional 960 team members deployed from other USACE divisions across the Nation engaged to support the response mission. Response teams are assisting with debris management, commodities distribution, infrastructure assessment, temporary roofing, critical public facilities, water planning, and temporary housing. USACE has established Recovery Field Offices in New York and New Jersey to support FEMA and recovery operations.
The National Guard continues to work to expedite recovery efforts. More than 5,600 Army and Air National Guard Soldiers and Airmen from 11 states are conducting food, water, and fuel distribution, communications, security, sheltering, debris removal and transportation missions in support of recovery efforts.
Civil Air Patrol is launching 23 aircraft from states along the Northeast seaboard to photograph hurricane damage in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania and to conduct low-level missions over waterways that would correspond to varying tidal conditions to pinpoint oil spills and navigation hazards for the U.S. Coast Guard. These flyovers, involving aircraft from as far away as Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and North Carolina, will also assist federal agencies to assess where to most-effectively deploy debris teams.
The U.S. Fleet Forces (Navy & Marine Corps) are assisting the Army Corps of Engineers in their power restoration, cleaning and dewatering efforts in NY and NJ.
The United State Postal Service (USPS) wants to remind customers who have evacuated or relocated due to hurricane Sandy to submit a change of address, place mail on hold or request that mail be temporarily forwarded to their new location. For the latest service updates regarding hurricane Sandy, call 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777).
U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has distributed an initial $5.3 million to 11 states affected by Hurricane Sandy. NRCS provides this funding through its Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program.
USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is allowing flexibility to New York City Public School District to serve all meals free through the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program for the month of November. FNS has also approved New Jersey's request to allow Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP- formerly Food Stamps) recipients that reside in Atlantic County, Bergen County, Cape May County, Essex County, Hudson County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Ocean County, Somerset County and Union County,(all of which have received individual assistance declarations from FEMA), to be allowed to purchase hot foods and hot food products with SNAP benefits through the end of the month.
The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) has 1,008 national service members who have been deployed to seven states. AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members in Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia are assisting with shelter operations, call centers, debris removal, and mass care. About 435 members of FEMA Corps, an innovative partnership between FEMA and AmeriCorps, are working directly with disaster survivors in New York and New Jersey.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reminds consumers to take precautions for storing water and ensuring the safety of their food and medical supplies for themselves, their families, and their pets during and after any hurricane-related rain, possible flooding and power outages. For food and drug safety messaging, visit the Food and Drug Administration hurricane safety checklist, available in English and Spanish (http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/PublicHealthFocus/ucm317232.htm).
The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) mobilized resources to speed storm recovery on Federal and tribal lands in the impacted region and to support FEMA in its efforts to assist states and local governments in the disaster area, including more than 970 DOI employees conducting response and recovery missions. More than 1,200 wildland firefighters from all agencies, including about 260 wildland firefighters from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park service are responding with fellow wildland firefighters from the U.S. Forest Service and State Forestry Divisions to support FEMA staging areas, assist in emergency operations centers, and provide crews to clear trees for emergency access and power crews.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) continues ongoing communications with impacted tribes through the Tribal Assistance Coordination Group, enhancing communications and coordination between Native American Tribes in the disaster area, other Federal agencies including FEMA, and non-profit relief organizations who are offering assistance.
The National Park Service (NPS) has deployed more than 300 incident management personnel, technical experts and work crews to assist parks and refuges throughout the region in recovery operations. Working with interagency partners, NPS has also established a debris transfer site at Jacob Riis Park in New York to support local clean-up activities and is providing feeding for emergency workers in the vicinity of its logistics base at Fort Wadsworth in the Gateway National Recreation Area.
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.